“There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests gets together to work toward the same goals,” internationally acclaimed organizational consultant and author Idowu Koyenikan perfectly characterized the fervor of the leadership and staff of the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).
As an independent authority, WHEDA’s mission is to “stimulate the state’s economy and improved the quality of life for Wisconsin residents by providing affordable housing and business financing products.” It accomplishes that far-ranging goal by carefully assessing the changing lifestyle and business needs of Wisconsinites, then matching, combining or innovating financial products to meet those needs.
Now celebrating its 45th year of success, WHEDA began through state legislators’ foresight in 1972 with $250,000 in seed money. The impact of that investment on the lives and fortunes of Wisconsinites has been repaid many times: more than $10 billion in housing and economic development bonds; 124,000 families assisted with home purchases; and 29,000 small business and agricultural loan guarantees.
WHEDA’s success is calculated in far more than numbers — its success is measured in the impact on the lives of the people it touches.
WHEDA closed $336 million in home mortgages last year, an amazing 31 percent increase from the prior year. The WHEDA home-buying process includes six steps: managing your money; finding and contacting a WHEDA lender; choosing a loan; home buyer education; shopping for a home; and becoming a homeowner. Along the way, WHEDA offers resources to successfully navigate the system, available at wheda.
Higher income and purchase price maximums mean more people can qualify as first-time owners. The income limit in southeast Wisconsin for a one- to IA installment loans two-member household is $72,400, with a maximum single-family purchase price of $253,809, or $324,966 for a two-unit. Limits for subsequent WHEDA mortgages are higher!
More than 62 percent of WHEDA home buyers are millennials, who may have no savings for a down payment. WHEDA helps here with down payment assistance, including closing costs and home-buyer education expenses.
WHEDA strives to meet the housing needs of special populations, like the elderly, by helping to finance Wisconsin’s first affordable assisted living facility, and another campus-style development with memory care services. WHEDA also has helped fund housing projects for at-risk young men, vulnerable youth and veterans.
WHEDA also administers the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) available to public-private partnerships to develop and rehabilitate rental housing for those with low to moderate incomes.
WHEDA Foundation grants are available for operations or capital improvements not eligible for other types of funding.
WHEDA pioneered agricultural financing with low-cost, short-term financing for farmers to plant, fertilize and harvest crops through its Credit Relief Outreach Program (CROP) program. Since 1985, it has helped more than 28,000 farmers with $455 million in financing.
The Farm Asset Reinvestment Management (FARM) program helps farmers access capital needed to start a new farm, expand operations or modernize their processes. It has been expanded to include support for beginning farmers.
WHEDA fosters job creation and business retention through a variety of financing programs, like its Small Business Guarantee and Contractor Loan Guarantee. Over the past 13 years, WHEDA has been awarded $575 million in federal New Market Tax Credits to promote job creation and economic development in low-income urban and rural communities. That’s generated thousands of jobs in health centers, manufacturing facilities, retail stores, hotels, office space and food processors.
WHEDA staff are experts in analyzing situations and combining resources in innovative ways to meet funding needs.
Committed to our county’s continuing development, WHEDA and Progress Lakeshore recently hosted a Community Resources Forum at Orion Energy Systems.
Community columnist Maura “Chip” Yost is a Centerville resident.