Jefferson County is proud to announce its recent certification by the U.S. Department of Housing…
Thrive Economic Development (ThriveED) has announced the launch of the Live Local Development Fund (LLDF), an initiative aimed at promoting housing development and fostering vibrant communities across Greater Jefferson County.
The LLDF, which will be administered by ThriveED, marks a pivotal step toward addressing the lack of available and affordable housing stock by incentivizing the creation of multi-family housing developments. Housing development in the county stalled after the 2008 recession and has been slow to rebound. The result is a shortage of housing of all types, with a projected shortage of at least 3,500 housing units in the county by 2029.
The LLDF was developed in response to a critical need – while the cost of housing construction in Jefferson County aligns closely with neighboring regions such as Dane County and Waukesha County, the rental income generated is comparatively lower. This gap in revenue often obstructs housing development projects in Jefferson County. Through LLDF’s strategic gap financing, the county is positioned to be on par with neighboring regions, enhancing its competitiveness and driving housing development.
The LLDF currently has $3 million available, with additional funding expected to be announced in the fall. Jefferson County has committed $1 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to the loan fund, and the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation has committed $2 million.
“One of the primary goals of the Live Local Development Fund is to support access to housing that is attainable to the county’s workforce,” notes Jefferson County Administrator Ben Wehmeier. “More than half of workers in jobs located in Jefferson County commute from outside the county each day.”
“The development of housing that is affordable to our local workforce isn’t just an investment in roofs and walls; it’s an investment in our communities and the workers who contribute so much to them,” adds Wehmeier.
ThriveED President Deb Reinbold notes the widespread consequences to businesses when the local workforce cannot secure housing in the communities in which they work.
“A lack of available housing in an area can make it difficult for businesses to attract and retain talented employees,” says Reinbold. “Prospective employees may be discouraged from moving to or staying in a location with high housing costs or no available housing, leading to a limited pool of qualified candidates for job openings.”
The LLDF is designed to promote housing of all types, from affordable to market rate, in the county. The fund will offer up to $25,000 per unit for a negotiated term at or below market rates. Public, private and not-for-profit real estate developers are eligible to apply. The initial focus will be on multi-family housing developments in Greater Jefferson County, with a planned expansion to include single family housing projects in the years to come.
The first application window is now open to developers. Applications are due September 15, 2023. Applicants will be notified by September 29, 2023. Developers interested in applying or learning more can complete a simple inquiry form found at thriveed.org/housing.
Employers and financial institutions interested in learning about becoming a LLDF investor can contact ThriveED President Deb Reinbold at 920-674-8710 or deb@thriveED.org.