Green Bay staff find solution for affordable housing

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- At a meeting Thursday morning, Green Bay’s Housing Authority said it’s willing to make cuts elsewhere to save a portion of its affordable housing, which is something they say is critical in the fight against homelessness.

“We will have to look at our budget and see where we can make things fit,” said Robyn Hallet, housing administrator, Green Bay Housing Authority.

Green Bay’s Housing Authority currently manages about 50 low-income units, known as scattered homes, throughout five different Green Bay neighborhoods.

“They are duplexes and single family homes that we rent out to qualified families, and their rent is based on their income,” said Hallet.

If those properties were on the city's tax roll, Green Bay would get about $33,000 every year in tax revenue, but because they are federally funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Green Bay’s housing authority only pays a portion of it to the city.

“Currently we follow this HUD formula, and the end of the calculation indicates how much we would pay,” said Hallet.

In 2017, the housing authority paid the city $9,200, which left the city with an estimated $24,000 tax revenue deficit.

At the city finance committee’s last meeting in December, members asked staff if there was a way to close that gap.

Staff members contacted HUD and found a way to make it work by adjusting its HUD payment formula.

“In our discussion with HUD we asked, ‘Do we have to follow this formula?' and they basically said, ‘No you don't have to. You can negotiate a different amount with the city,'” said Hallet.

The housing authority said it is willing to pay the city more than $32,000 for its scattered home units, but Hallet said it won’t happen this year because they will have to make some budgetary adjustments.

“To be honest, it’s something that we’re going to have to look at in our housing authority budget and make cuts in other areas so that we can pay it,” said Hallet.

Hallet said because the authority is willing to pay the city more on the front end, they would likely get a bigger operating subsidy from HUD.

“Our expenses would be higher, so that means our operating subsidy would be a little bit higher,” said Hallet. “We know it won’t be dollar for dollar, but hopefully it will be 50 cents on the dollar at least so we can get a little more subsidy to make up for that expense.”

The plan will be presented to the finance committee at their next meeting in two weeks. If they approve it, it will head to city council for final approval.

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