Take Root Wisconsin creates stronger foundation for sustainable homeownership in Wisconsin, builds upon achievements and initiatives outlined in task force report
For Immediate Release: 6/9/21
Contact: Julie Benkoske, firstname.lastname@example.org, (608) 577-8991
MADISON, Wis. — State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski today announced, along with Task Force Chair and Kenosha County Treasurer Teri Jacobson and members of the Treasures’ Homeowners Task Force, the creation of a new statewide network to help Wisconsinites buy, fix, and stay in their homes. Working from the blueprint provided by the Task Force’s Homeownership Report, the new statewide network, named Take Root Wisconsin, will bring together a unique coalition of state officials, local treasurers, nonprofit leaders, realtors, housing experts, and legal advocates to build a foundation for sustainable homeownership in Wisconsin.
“For families across Wisconsin, owning a home is a key part of the American Dream and unlocking financial security. But for too many, particularly young families and communities of color, owning a home remains out of reach and with the recent economic downturn, many are at risk of foreclosure,” said State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski.
“This year-long task force went beyond just making recommendations, we got things done. When the pandemic hit, we launched a pilot COVID-19 Foreclosure Prevention Program in La Crosse that provided homeowners struggling to pay their property taxes with cash assistance, financial counseling, and wraparound services. Additionally, the Task Force’s extensive effort has culminated in Take Root Wisconsin, a new statewide network to improve homeownership opportunities, create tools and tactics to prevent foreclosures, and empower taxpayers and community leaders through homeownership education.”
“I’m proud of the innovative solutions this coalition is putting in place to build a stronger foundation for homeowners and ensure Wisconsinites will be able to buy, stay, and fix their homes.”
Convened in March 2020, the Treasurers’ Homeowners Task Force came together to address the many challenges facing Wisconsin homeowners. The Task Force sought diverse input and expertise from public officials, nonprofit leaders, legal advocates, and leaders in the housing industry who were committed to developing equitable solutions that would improve homeownership and prevent foreclosures.
Since the mid-2000s, the homeownership rate in Wisconsin has dropped by over 7%. It is even worse for communities of color as Wisconsin has the third worst Black homeownership rate in the country at 23% compared to the national average of 44%. Further, Wisconsin has the lowest homeownership rate for young adults (i.e. 25-34 and 35-44 years old) compared to our neighbors in Minnesota, Iowa, and Michigan. The declining homeownership rate is alarming, and with the solutions implemented by the Task Force we can take action to address this threat to the financial security of our citizens and our state.
“My fellow local treasurers and I are on the frontlines working with taxpayers and homeowners everyday. As chair of the Treasurers’ Homeowners Task Force, I’ve been inspired by the resources we’ve been able to put in place to better communicate and assist Wisconsinites,” said Kenosha County Treasurer and Task Force Chair Teri Jacobson. “The system of local treasurers identifying struggling households and partnering with Take Root Wisconsin will allow us to efficiently and effectively keep people in their homes.”
The Task Force provided solutions without any additional resources from the Federal or state government and included:
- COVID-19 Foreclosure Prevention Pilot: Provided cash assistance, financial counseling, and wrap-around support to COVID-impacted households who were newly delinquent on their property taxes and at long-term risk of losing their home.
- Statewide Homeownership Network: Created a consortium of community organizations, housing counseling agencies, realtors, lenders, government leaders, and other groups to improve homeownership and prevent foreclosures.
- Property Tax Web Portal and Education Materials: Developed easy-to-understand information on property taxes and interactive tools — such as web pages, sample documents, and teaching materials — to provide local treasurers, homeowners, teachers, students, and community members.
Take Root Wisconsin will be implemented as part of the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP). Leveraging the existing relationships and community trust of WISCAP’s 18 affiliated agencies, along with the added engagement from other stakeholders, this network has a strong foundation to address the urgent need for more tools and resources as Wisconsinites are working out from under the recent economic crisis. Take Root Wisconsin is modeled after the successful Take Root Milwaukee program and is the first statewide “Take Root” with start-up funding provided by founding members.
“The people involved with this task force really rolled up their sleeves to put ideas into action when it comes to improving homeownership in Wisconsin,” said WISCAP Executive Director Brad Paul. “We look forward to continuing to scale the initiatives outlined in the report and delivering better results for homeowners in Wisconsin.”