February 15, 2009

West Racine project may not have gotten funding, even if it was approved

Remember the ill-fated affordable housing project in West Racine? Turns out it may have been DOA even with local support.

The controversial 55-unit building at West Boulevard and Washington Avenue may have had a difficult time receiving grants from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), according to a source close to the project. There's just not enough demand for affordable housing in Racine.

Here's the problem for Racine. It has a sizable low-income population, but it also has a sizable number of low-income housing apartments that aren't being rented right now. You can argue many apartments are in lousy shape, but even newer buildings aren't selling out. That makes for a tough argument for developers trying to bring more affordable housing to the city.

One argument that's out there is the need for three-bedroom apartments to accommodate families. But even that's been a tough sell, considering the fate of the 27-unit Corinne Owens affordable housing project on State Street.

So what's all this mean?

First, developer Heather Hammond may have misread the Racine market when proposing her West Racine plan. (See this story I did for The Daily Reporter on Hammond ripping Racine for turning down her proposal.)

Second, Racine may not be in the market for WHEDA grants in the near future. The city could probably use some assisted senior living, and possibly a well-designed project with three-bedroom apartments in a family friendly area. But straight-up low-income apartments? Probably not.

Third, West Racine residents may have saved the city from a bad project on a prime piece of property. City staff recommended Hammond's proposal and the Plan Commission was leaning in favor of it until hundreds of people voiced their opposition. Setting aside worries about low-income housing (which is important to have in any community), the project may simply have not worked. Nice apartments or not, they're useful if no one rents them.

In that case, a vacant lot - even one with $2 million in debt on it - is more valuable.


  1. Setting aside worries about low-income housing (which is important to have in any community)

    Lets build one next door to you I do not think you will enjoy it much.
    You guys should spend sometime at and not simply drive by some of the winners we have now. But I guess it is easier to force a neiboorhood to deal with low income housing when you do not live there.
    FYI 247 Jones 53404 is for rent hope to see you moving in soon! See first hand what life is like in a slum comes with slum lord too!

  2. Yes, there are vacancies in my building, too. Come live with the crackheads, whores, drunks, thieves, thugs, gangbangers, sex offenders and predators. Come enjoy YOUR Racine.

  3. What Racine needs to do is set up a “Red Light district” same as the have in Frankfurt Germany.

    All the “ladies of the evening”, druggies and the like stay in that area. If they come out and try to “peddle” their wares or do the dope, right to the poky they go, otherwise the police don’t bother them.

    This way when the cops need to pick someone up, they know right where to go verses chasing them all over the city.

    It’s just like TV or a tavern you don’t like, “CHANGE THE CHANNEL OR DON’T GO IN THERE”

  4. Glad to see that people finally admitted that it was going to be low income housing and that the state finally admitted that it was the last thing that this town needed. Maybe if there is a lack of the "affordable" housing for those who chose not to work, they might consider going somewhere else!