By Jalen Maki

Editor-in-chief Tomahawk

NORTHERN WISCONSIN – A study of the housing sector in five counties in northern Wisconsin found growing demand, rising costs, a shortage of rental housing and a lack of housing diversity.

Population data and other information were also included in the report.

The study was conducted by the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (NCWRPC), in conjunction with Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation.

The NCWRPC is a “public body dedicated to providing professional planning services to member local governments” serving Adams, Forest, Juneau, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Portage, Vilas and Wood counties, according to its website. .

Grow North is “a voluntary, private / public 501 (c) (6) organization dedicated to economic development in the eight counties known as the Northwoods of Wisconsin,” its Facebook page states.

The study focused on the counties of Lincoln, Forest, Langlade, Oneida and Vilas. The counties of Florence, Marinette and Oconto, which make up the remainder of Grow North’s footprint, were not included in the study.

Aim of the study

According to the comprehensive study report, prepared by the NCWRPC, the aim of the study was to “develop a set of goals and strategies that can address housing issues in the region by examining the current state of the region and using that information to guide the goal and strategy development.

“The study includes a demographic overview of the region, an assessment of the housing stock and trends in the region, and an analysis of workforce housing in the region,” the report says. “This information will help identify any needs, such as a need for additional housing, what types of housing are needed, and identify the steps needed to address the housing gaps in the area.”

Communities facing “growing demand, rising costs”

The report says many communities in the region are experiencing “growing demand and rising housing costs.”

“This makes it more difficult for working class and low-income families to find suitable housing within these communities, and often leads to the exodus of labor from a community and the displacement. low-income families, ”the report says.

Shortage of rental housing

According to the report, there is currently a shortage of rental units, especially apartment complexes, in the Grow North area.

Only about 21% of occupied households in the area are tenant-occupied, compared to about 33% in Wisconsin.

Type of household. Photos courtesy of NCWRPC.

Lack of housing diversity

The report noted a “lack of housing diversity in the region, as single-family dwellings represent a significant portion (85%) of the region’s housing stock.”

The lack of housing diversity within the region “has a negative impact on the number of rental units available, as multi-family units are generally the main source of rental units,” according to the report.

“Low-rental housing is generally based on multi-family housing,” the report says. “This means that the lack of housing diversity in the area also has a negative impact on housing affordability, especially for low-income households. “

Types of housing units.

Median value of owner-occupied dwellings.

Median monthly costs of the selected owner.

Aging of the population

The Grow North region has an aging population, according to the report.

“In 2019, nearly a quarter of the region’s population was made up of people aged 65 and over,” the report says. “In addition, the population over 65 is expected to continue to increase over the next decade. This trend indicates that the Region will need to take a number of measures to meet the growing need for housing for the elderly. “

Seasonal units: “Unique opportunities, challenges”

The report noted that the region’s high number of seasonal units offers “unique opportunities and challenges.”

“The majority of the region’s seasonal housing stock is privately owned,” the report says. “Some private owners prefer not to rent their property, while others prefer to rent it. The lack of landlords willing to rent their property to seasonal workers poses problems for seasonal migrant workers who are only in the Region for a few months at a time.

Market gaps

According to the report, there is a market gap for homes in the lower home price ranges in the Grow North area, and “due to the high proportion of seasonal housing units in the area, there are likely gaps. market in some of the upper accommodations. price ranges too.

“These market failures are impacting low-income households and attracting jobs across the region,” the report says.

Other highlights of the report

Other data and information highlighted in the report include:

  • A 4% population decrease has occurred in the Grow North region over the past 20 years.
  • A decrease in the population aged 17 and under and an increase in the population aged 65 and over “will impact the workforce, the education system and the health care industries in the Grow North region.”
  • Per capita income and median household income across the Region have increased over the past 30 years. In general, per capita incomes within the Region grew faster than the growth rates of the state and the country for the same period, while the median household incomes in the Region increased at a faster rate. slow as state and nation. However, once adjusted for inflation, these growth rates become considerably slower, with median household incomes even falling.
  • Overall, the Grow North region has negative net migration of workers entering the region for work.
  • The single family home is the dominant type of housing in the Grow North area. Multi-family dwellings make up over 19% of the state’s housing stock, but only about 8.4% of the region’s housing stock, indicating that the region has a higher proportion of single-family dwellings than the state. , and subsequently, a lower proportion of multi-family dwellings – family housing.
  • The median home value in the area has always been lower than the median home value for the state as a whole.
  • In 2019, over 24% of all households in the Grow North region spent more than 30% of their family income on shelter, making them ‘overcharged’. In 2019, around 8% of all households in the Grow North region spent more than 50% of their family income on shelter, making them ‘severely overcharged’.

Objectives, strategies

The report also listed several goals for improving the housing situation in the region and strategies to achieve them.

Objective 1: Provide an adequate supply of affordable housing for individuals and households of all income levels throughout the Region.

Strategies: Increase the housing stock throughout the Region; expand housing diversity across the region (encourage the development of a diverse mix of housing types and densities across the region and encourage government units to adopt and enforce housing development policies and regulations that promote a variety of housing types and cost ranges, and which does not unduly restrict the choice of housing for any segment of the population); ensure that an adequate supply of rental properties is available for all age groups and family sizes; and developing and redeveloping the housing stock to increase the median house value.

Objective 2: Increase the number of rental housing in the Region.

Strategies: Encourage government units to add more multi-family housing options, especially apartment complexes, within their communities; encourage government units to consider using a dispersed site concept with the goal of adding more rental units to the area; encourage government units to allow multi-family dwellings in at least one zoning district as a permitted use; encourage governments to develop fast-track development permitting and approval processes specifically for housing projects that will provide rental housing; and locate multi-family rental housing only in areas that are served or can be easily served by sanitary sewers.

Objective 3: Encourage and support a diverse mix of housing in the Grow North region.

Strategies: Encourage the development of a wide range of housing styles, including missing high density, multi-family and mid-size housing; encourage government units to allow alternative housing types to meet a wider variety of housing needs (e.g. mixed-use options including living / working space, small houses, secondary suites [Granny flats]); and encourage governments to develop expedited permitting and development approval processes for housing developments.

Objective 4: Promote housing that accommodates the elderly, those with special needs and those with very low incomes.

Strategies: Encourage government units to offer a range of housing options that can accommodate seniors and low-income households (in particular, governments should increase the number of housing units in their communities that are affordable for very low-income households, as well as the number of households that can accommodate the elderly and those with special needs); and encourage housing that allows adaptability as the population ages and / or changes.

Full report available online

To view the full report, visit