Madison
71° F
Clear
Clear
Advertisement

Low vacancy rates leave some struggling to find housing

Published On: Dec 03 2012 06:50:00 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 03 2012 09:00:46 PM CST

MADISON, Wis. -

Housing experts believe the Madison-area vacancy rate could hit record lows.

While more rental properties are being built, there's no promise those new properties will shelter the most vulnerable in the area who are looking for affordable housing.

"I've been looking for low-income housing for me and my four kids for about three years now, and I've run out of places to stay," said Nissa Uriostegui.

Uriostegui is turning to the Dane County Housing Authority. Experts there said Madison's 2.3 percent vacancy rate could dip even lower.

"I think when we see the fourth-quarter numbers come out, we may see vacancy rates as low as sub-2 percent in the Madison area, which would be absolutely unheard of," said Rob Dicke, Dane County Housing Authority's executive director. "That would be the lowest since those numbers were recorded by Madison Gas and Electric in the last 16 years."

Vacancy numbers are never concrete, and McKenzie Apartment Company is doing its part to open up new opportunities for those looking to rent.

"You obviously, here in Verona, see a big benefit from Epic (Systems Corp.)," said developer Jack McKenzie, who is building a new rental property on the north end of Verona. "And at our properties now, we see an influx of Epic employees coming in."

McKenzie said his projects are driven by what the market currently demands, which often is not what lower income families truly need.

"What we find that's being developed right now, we're talking two bedrooms in the $1,100, $1,200 price range; it's just simply not affordable," Dicke said.

"I think there definitely is a market for well-done affordable housing," McKenzie said. "I think it starts with the city putting that into their neighborhood plans and into their zoning plans."

"We didn't ask to be in this situation," Uriostegui said. "We didn't ask for these cards to be handed to us, but we are here. And these kids deserve a place to stay, just like everyone else's kids."

The term "affordable housing" is defined as a rental unit where the total cost of rent and utilities does not exceed 30 percent of a renter's income. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Wisconsin is $740.

For that unit to be defined as "affordable," the renter's wage must be greater than $14 an hour. The wage for Wisconsin's average renter is just more than $11 an hour.

Advertisement
  • Buddy Check 3

    Learn more about Buddy Check and sign up to get a reminder to perform a self-exam and remind your friends to do the same.

  • Cruiser

    Cruiser

    Your pet photos

    Email us a picture of you and your pet and we'll use it in out Pet Walk segment which airs every weekday morning at 6:40. Include your name, your pet's name and where you're from. Email to petwalk@wisctv.com.

  • Time for Kids - Explore the Outdoors

    Dean Clinic and WISC-TV3 are focusing on a year-long campaign to get kids off their electronics and into the outdoors.

Advertisement