According to United Way’s most recent ALICE report, 46% of people in Eau Claire experience income and housing insecurity with affordable housing being a major part of that data.
Now, a new commission formed by the Eau Claire City Council looks to address what’s being called an affordable housing crisis.
“Our community is facing an affordable housing crisis and we have 40% of people that are struggling to make ends meet and putting roughly a third of their income into housing,” said Andrew Werthmann of the Eau Claire City Council.
Eau Claire City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday night which will form the Housing Opportunities Commission to find ways to solve the affordable housing crisis.
“This commission says, how do we gather the experts whether it’s developers, lenders, community housing advocates together for our city to come up with the proposals we are going to need to tackle this issue,” said Werthmann.
The new commission will consist of 11 members from developers and lenders to the people actually affected by affordable housing.
JONAH, a local advocacy group, will help provide people with first-hand accounts and will also work closely with the commission.
“The real experts are the people on the ground that are working with affordable housing,” said Susan Wolfgram of JONAH.
“We will connect them with real people living in Eau Claire with our neighbors and community members so they can hear the stories of how people are really affected day to day by this issue,” said Judi Moseley of JONAH.
Werthmann said the new commission is part of the 38 point plan brought forth by the Chippewa Valley Housing Task Force back in November that was passed by the city council.
He also says this is only the third time a commission has been formed in the last 15 years.
“It’s going to hold us accountable, I think that’s really what it is about,” said Werthmann. “Our commissions in our city are populated by citizens who are experts in their field and they can help hold accountability with our elected leaders.”
Affordable housing is something that most city council members agree is an issue, and Werthmann says the new commission will help institute real change.
“This is a huge deal for our city and I think it speaks to the fact that we are a growing city that has a housing shortage and we have to be serious about how we figure out good policy to tackle that,” Werthmann said.
There is an application process to be on the new commission, and for more information on how to apply, click here.