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Mayor proposes ‘small house’ plan to tackle housing crisis

Paine said this project would be part of the city’s current Vacant to Value program.
Paine said this project would be part of the city’s current Vacant to Value program.(Paine said this project would be part of the city’s current Vacant to Value program.)
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 9:20 PM CDT
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SUPERIOR, WI. (KBJR 6) -- Superior Mayor Jim Paine said there’s a housing crisis in the city. Now, he’s proposing a new partnership to create what he calls affordable small homes.

Paine said this project would be part of the city’s current Vacant to Value program.

The city owns a number of vacant lots that Paine now wants to utilize to build environmentally friendly small houses.

If the plan is approved, Paine said the city would partner with the non-profit Green New Deal Housing to build three small houses to start.

Green New Deal Housing was formed by local leaders and housing advocates from around the Twin Ports to address concerns about the housing crisis.

The goal is for the non-profit to work with contractors to build the homes, which the mayor said will be small but not “tiny.”

The houses will be solar-powered, so there would be little to no cost for heating or electricity, and they will be sold at an affordable rate to qualified parties.

The mayor said he believes this project will also decrease taxes for other homeowners in the city and increase property values.

“I think it’s a very good fit for Superior because our program gives the land away for free and that land has value and we want to get that land back on the tax rolls,” Paine said. “It is far more valuable to us to have people just start paying taxes, improving the neighborhood, increasing the value of the homes around them than it is to just let them sit vacantly.

The three proposed locations are lots in the North End, Midtown, and Billings Park.

Paine said one of the long-term goals of the program is to have those who purchase the small homes build wealth and equity over time.

All three lots were approved by the planning commission Wednesday night. Next, the full council will vote on approval, after which a development agreement can be reached and construction can start.

The mayor said this is not the only project the city will be tackling to address housing concerns. He said they will also be working to invest in affordable rental housing, as well as help those remodeling and repairing their houses to increase housing value for everyone in Superior.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the city would lower rent prices, rather than invest in affordable rental housing.

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