Challenges in Dane County’s Housing Market Discussed in Poverty Fact Sheet

Dane County consistently ranks as one of the nation’s top places to live, according to Livability.

Despite this high ranking, adequate housing is unaffordable for many people who live in Dane County, according to a new fact sheet released by the Institute for Research on Poverty in partnership with the Morgridge Center for Public Service.

The fact sheet, titled “Rental Housing Affordability in Dane County,” highlights the unique challenges and impacts of the current state of the Dane County housing market.

One major challenge relates to Dane County’s “historically low rental vacancy rates.” Dane County’s vacancy rates, or available empty units, hover consistently lower than the national norm. Because of this tight market, competition increases, rents go up and households are either cost-burdened or forced out of their existing home.

Statistics included in the fact sheet demonstrated what it actually looks like to live in Dane County’s tight rental market. Nearly half of renters in Dane County are cost-burdened, or paying 30 percent or more of their income on rent. A quarter of Dane County renters are paying more than half of their income on rent.  For the monthly salary of a childcare worker or a retail salesperson, there is only one affordable unit for every three people in need of a unit at that cost.

These challenging statistics disproportionately represent households of color, who are more likely to be low-income in Dane County. The fact sheet presented data that demonstrated hardships that disparately affect African-Americans in Dane County, such as unaffordable rent, overcrowding, incomplete plumbing and incomplete kitchen facilities.

To learn more about the specific challenges facing  Dane County’s housing market and potential solutions, read the full fact sheet here.

Through the partnership between the Institute for Research on Poverty at UW-Madison and the Morgridge Center, student interns create fact sheets that translate complex poverty research into information easy to understand for undergraduate students. Interns also work to share poverty research findings with the campus community. This fact sheet was prepared by Poverty Studies intern Will Maher.