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A Boost for Supportive Housing in Wisconsin

Access to safe, sustainable housing is vital to everyone’s health and wellness, and by connecting affordable housing with supportive services, WHEDA is working to have a lasting impact on the well-being of our communities statewide. Wisconsin residents with unmet needs in the areas of mental health, physical challenges, substance use recovery, job training, and family services are among those facing the greatest risk for homelessness. Through its comprehensive supportive housing strategy, WHEDA is helping our most vulnerable populations breakdown barriers to finding a long-term place to call home.

With Wisconsin ranking among the top 10 states experiencing homelessness in the U.S., WHEDA is working to find new, innovative ways to advance housing opportunity and equity. In February 2021, WHEDA formed a partnership with the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), a national leader in supportive housing. This allowed WHEDA to bring in an industry expert to connect developers and community service providers with training and resources to build awareness for and expand the supply of supportive housing in rural and urban communities across Wisconsin.

The first step that WHEDA and CSH collaborated on was a four-part webinar series. This series allowed developers, community service providers, and other housing professionals to expand their knowledge and deepen their understanding on the basics of supportive housing, integrated housing models, supportive services, and property management.

In addition to these training opportunities, WHEDA and CSH conducted a statewide survey to better understand the areas of greatest needs for supportive housing in Wisconsin. More than 260 housing professionals and community stakeholders provided feedback in this survey. Of these respondents, 77% said they saw supportive housing as a part of their organizational mission, moreover 75% saw a need for improved supportive housing plans.

Using the survey results, WHEDA and CSH launched the first-of-its-kind Wisconsin Supportive Housing Institute. The institute was created with the purpose of training teams of developers, supportive service providers, and property managers. The goal of the Institute is to reduce the timeline for supportive housing by improving planning and development.

The inaugural 2022 Supportive Housing Institute featured a five-month engagement offering seven development teams from across Wisconsin with 80 hours of targeted training, group exercises, and technical assistance on property management, financing, and building design. At the end of the Institute, teams present their supportive housing plans to a group of public and private investors. After graduating from the institute, the goal is for each team is to be prepared to apply for WHEDA’s Housing Tax Credit Program and other funding sources to bring their supportive housing plan to fruition.

Supportive housing improves housing stability; employment; mental and physical health; school attendance; and reduces active substance use. Supportive housing helps people live more stable and productive lives and supports individuals and families to thrive.
-Katrina Van Valkenburgh, Central Region Managing Director at CSH

WHEDA, and their partners like CSH, realize that safe and reliable housing is crucial to the health and wellness of communities and the individuals they serve. Through the first-ever Wisconsin Supportive Housing Institute, WHEDA is committed to expanding supportive housing statewide to help more residents that are facing complex challenges to be set up to live a life of stability, autonomy, and dignity.