Putting the 'Home' in Hometown Village Apartments
In the mid-1970s, the United States was tasked with adapting to an ever-changing housing market that left many citizens in a bind. The cost of housing, even rental housing, was rising to a level far beyond the means of many citizens. Demand for low-income housing rose rapidly, yet few new developments were being constructed to keep up with the demand. With the mission to provide affordable housing, the Wisconsin Housing Finance Authority, now WHEDA, began looking for ways to assist residents throughout Wisconsin.
WHEDA found a solution using the Section 8 Voucher Program, a federal housing program that “makes up the difference” for low-income families who cannot afford median rental costs. Low-income individuals pay a pre-determined percentage of their total income toward rent, after which the government covers the remainder of the amount owed. The program benefitted many who were able to find participatory housing, but the housing shortage still prevented many from taking advantage of the program.
Hometown Village was specifically developed to offer Section 8 housing for residents who desperately needed rental assistance. In an attempt to spread affordable housing statewide, WHEDA financed its first Section 8 scattered development, which touched the 10 rural Wisconsin communities of Centuria, La Farge, Loyal, Mercer, Minong, Montello, Muscoda, New Lisbon, Rib Lake, and Union Grove.
The project created a total of 178 new, affordable housing rental units across the 10 sites. The units were a blessing to dozens of families throughout the state. Hometown Village may meet today’s standards and appear to be like any other development, but it was monumental for its time. Upon its completion, Hometown Village became the first Section 8 rental development in the entire United States, proving to be a landmark project in the nationwide quest for affordable housing.
While affordable housing across the country is still limited, WHEDA’s support for this trailblazing project provided an example for future developments to follow. WHEDA, with an ample supply of “firsts,” continues to make unique developments that meet the needs of communities throughout Wisconsin, whether that be in your hometown, the town next door, or a town that is hours away.