Affordable / Workforce Housing FAQ page

Affordable / Workforce Housing FAQ page

Thanks for visiting our Affordable/Workforce Housing FAQ page

Q: How are the affordable/workforce housing crisis and the labor shortage connected?

A: The affordable/workforce housing crisis and the labor shortage may seem like separate issues, but there is a crucial bridge that connects them. People can’t take jobs if the housing in our community isn’t affordable for them. These jobs are often in sectors that directly serve our community at large. When individuals cannot find suitable and affordable housing near their workplaces, they are either forced to look for jobs in other areas or face lengthy commutes. This leads to a shortage of skilled workers, affecting businesses and the entire community.

Q: What is affordable/workforce housing?

A: Affordable/workforce housing refers to the housing supply that is most limited in our community. It is specifically designed to cater to the needs of lower-pay scale employees, enabling them to live in, work in, and serve our community. This type of housing provides accessible and affordable options for individuals and families who play crucial roles in various sectors, such as service industries, healthcare, education, and more. By offering affordable workforce housing, we ensure that these essential members of our community can find suitable homes while contributing to the growth and vitality of our local economy.

Q: Why should I be concerned about affordable/workforce housing?

A: It is crucial to be concerned about affordable/workforce housing because the population that relies on this housing is the same population that serves us in various essential roles within our community. These individuals may work at our favorite restaurants, teach our children in pre-schools, or provide care for our parents or grandparents in local nursing homes. The impact of the affordable/workforce housing shortage is evident in businesses, particularly in the food and hospitality sectors, where reduced hours or closures have become more common.

Additionally, the lack of affordable/workforce housing affects essential services, such as garbage pick-up, as employees struggle to find suitable housing within our community. If these employees cannot find affordable housing options nearby, they may be forced to leave the area, resulting in staff shortages and service disruptions.

By addressing the affordable/workforce housing crisis, we ensure that these dedicated individuals can find housing within our community, enabling them to stay and continue serving us in the roles we rely on. A stable housing situation for our workforce is vital for the smooth functioning of businesses and the overall well-being of our community.

Q: I have a good job and am able to provide for my family – why can’t everyone?

A: It’s wonderful that you have been fortunate enough to have a stable job and provide for your family. However, it’s important to recognize that not everyone has had the same opportunities and starting point in life. There are various factors that can contribute to individuals facing challenges in achieving financial stability and accessing affordable/workforce housing.

For instance, some individuals may have disabilities that limit their employment options or require additional support. Others may not have had the same level of educational opportunities, which can impact their job prospects and earning potential. Some individuals have made mistakes in the past that have put them at a disadvantage, but they are striving for a better life and deserve a chance to rebuild.

Single parents who have escaped abusive relationships face unique challenges, as they may have sole custody of multiple children without support from the other parent. Their focus is on creating a safe and stable environment for their children, making affordable/workforce housing essential for their well-being.

Many people in our community have experienced trauma during their early childhood years, which continues to affect their lives. These individuals may require additional support and resources to overcome the obstacles they face.

By addressing the affordable/workforce housing crisis, we can create opportunities for individuals to improve their circumstances, break the cycle of adversity, and provide a stable foundation for themselves and their families. It is through our collective efforts that we can uplift those who are facing different starting points and work towards a more equitable and inclusive community for all.

Q: How many people in our community need affordable/workforce housing?

A: The United Way’s ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constraint Employed) report provides valuable insights into the number of individuals and households facing financial challenges in our community. The 2023 ALICE report is now available, and it sheds light on the specific situation in Chippewa County.

For detailed information, I encourage you to explore the Wisconsin ALICE report at Wisconsin ALICE Report and the summary specifically for Chippewa County at Chippewa County ALICE Summary. These resources will provide you with comprehensive data and insights into the number of households facing income constraints in our community.

By understanding the scope of the affordable/workforce housing need, we can better advocate for solutions and work towards creating a more inclusive and supportive community for all residents.

Q: Who is ALICE?

A: ALICE stands for Asset Limited Income Constraint Employed. ALICE represents a significant portion of our community. They are our neighbors, friends, relatives, and co-workers. They are also the individuals who work in the service industries, providing the essential services that we rely on and appreciate.

ALICE households often support our community through lower-paying jobs, enabling us to enjoy the conveniences and services we value. However, ALICE individuals and families face financial constraints and live paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes, they work multiple jobs to meet their family’s needs. Unfortunately, even a minor setback, such as a car breakdown, an extended illness, or an emergency house repair, can create significant financial challenges that take months or even years to overcome.

In the past, this group would have been referred to as the working poor. However, we now recognize them as ALICE—individuals who are employed, contributing to our community, and facing financial constraints. Acknowledging the importance of ALICE households and supporting initiatives that address their needs helps create a more inclusive and supportive community for everyone.

Q: Are there a lot of ALICE households in our area?

A: Absolutely. In Chippewa County, we see a significant number of ALICE households, indicating the pressing need for affordable/workforce housing solutions. Here are some statistics that provide insight into Chippewa County’s situation:

  • Chippewa County has a population of 66,865.
  • There are 26,791 households in Chippewa County, representing a 5% increase since 2019.
  • The median household income in Chippewa County is $60,533, which is slightly lower than the state average of $67,125.
  • 30% of households in Chippewa County are categorized as ALICE households, which is 7% higher than the state average of 23%.
  • 10% of households in Chippewa County are in poverty, slightly lower than the state average of 11%.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the whole story regarding ALICE families in Chippewa County, I encourage you to explore the following link:

This resource provides valuable insights into the challenges faced by ALICE households in our community and the significance of addressing affordable/workforce housing needs.

By familiarizing ourselves with the data and understanding the situation, we can take informed actions to support ALICE families and work towards a more equitable and thriving community.

Q: How many ALICE families are there in the city of Chippewa Falls?

A: In the city of Chippewa Falls, out of the total 6,295 households, a significant portion of them are ALICE households. Specifically, 46% or 2,896 households fall into the ALICE category and are facing financial challenges. This means that almost half of the families in our wonderful city are struggling with housing costs and other economic constraints.

Next time you take a walk through town or visit Irvine Park, it’s important to keep in mind that approximately every other family you encounter may be dealing with the difficulties of affordable/workforce housing. This highlights the urgent need to address this issue and provide support to ALICE families in our community.

Q: Doesn’t the County or City Government have Resources to help these ALICE Families?

A: The City and County see this situation growing, but they don’t have the resources or a mandate to solve this situation. They are willing to provide the resources they can but it will take action from the communities non-profits, faith community, business community and individuals.

Q: What about the Chippewa County Housing Authority?

A: The Chippewa County Housing Authority is an admirable non-profit organization dedicated to assisting ALICE families in our community. They have made tremendous efforts to support these families by offering rent subsidies, backed by a substantial funding of over $2 million. However, despite their commendable work, there remains a pressing challenge: a severe lack of affordable/workforce housing.

Here are some of the numbers we are seeing this summer.

  • The number of households requesting assistance for affordable housing continues to grow in Chippewa County.
  • There were 142 families on the housing waitlist in March of last year.
  • That number increased to 173 households in August of 2022.
  • There unfortunately are 232 households currently on the affordable housing waitlist.

While the Housing Authority has the financial means to help these families, the issue lies in the limited availability of affordable/workforce housing options. The demand for such housing far exceeds the supply, leading to a significant waiting period of 6-8 months for families in need. This waiting list demonstrates the urgent need for more affordable/workforce housing units in our community.

To truly address the problem at its core, we must focus on increasing the supply of affordable/workforce housing. By creating more housing options that are accessible to ALICE families, we can alleviate the burden they face and ensure timely assistance without prolonged waiting periods. Collaborative efforts from the community, local businesses, and organizations like the Chippewa County Housing Authority are crucial in addressing this pressing issue and providing sustainable solutions for our community.

Q: How can I help strengthen our community?

A: Your support and involvement are vital in making a positive impact on our community. Hope Village has been actively engaged in assisting ALICE families, and we greatly appreciate your willingness to contribute. Here are two ways you can help:

Volunteer: Join our dedicated group of volunteers who work alongside Hope Village to empower and uplift struggling families. By volunteering your time and skills, you can play a crucial role in helping these families make significant strides forward. Your efforts will not only assist individuals in need but also raise awareness about the challenges they face. Together, we can educate more people and foster a stronger support network within the community.

Financial Contribution: Consider making a financial contribution to the Hope Village Welcome Home Capital Campaign. The campaign aims to secure funds for the construction of 28 units of affordable housing, with the potential for expanding this impact even further. By contributing to this campaign, you directly contribute to the development of housing that will benefit our workforce and have a positive ripple effect on the entire community. Importantly, your donation to the Hope Village Welcome Home Campaign is tax-deductible, providing you with a meaningful way to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors while also potentially benefiting yourself and your family.

By volunteering with Hope Village and/or making a financial contribution to the Welcome Home Capital Campaign, you actively participate in addressing the needs of ALICE families and enhancing the quality of life in our community. Together, we can create lasting change and make our community an even better place to live for all.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

Check out our Capital Campaign materials here!

Mike Cohoon

Executive Director


Hope Village – Tiny Housing Alternatives Inc

1825 Kennedy Rd, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729