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WHEDA director touts 'modernization' bill

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A proposed bill expanding the ability of the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority to make loans will boost economic activity in the state by $500 million annually, WHEDA's executive director said in a call to the Star-Observer last week.

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The WHEDA "modernization" bill would increase income limits for borrowers and the amount of money the authority could raise through bonding to support economic development and multi-family housing construction, said Antonio Riley.

He estimated the economic impact to St. Croix County at $8.8 million annually. Passage of the bill would result in the creation of some 63 jobs in the county, he said.

"It's good for business across the board," Riley said of the bill. He said it would not only allow more low- and middle-income people to buy or improve homes, but also benefit builders, lenders and real estate agents.

"We're going to have that kind of an impact on the state's economy without a single tax dollar having to be spent," he said.

The bill would expand the number of people eligible for WHEDA loans by using federal income guidelines when they are higher than state income limits.

That part of the bill won't affect St. Croix County residents, however, because the federal household-income ceiling for loan eligibility here ($72,800) is already higher than the state limit.

The bill also would double the amount of bonds (from $300 million to $600 million) that WHEDA can issue to finance construction of rental housing and fund economic development projects.

In addition, it would eliminate the requirement for a 3 percent down-payment to get a WHEDA mortgage. It also would eliminate a $17,500 limit on home-improvement loans.

"Today, you can't do a whole lot to a home for $17,500. We want the ability to go higher if it makes sense for the homeowner," Riley said.

He said close to $6 million in WHEDA home loans have been issued in St. Croix County since 2003, including $1.5 million in home loans in the city of Hudson.

Riley said the state Assembly had already approved the WHEDA modernization. He was expecting the Senate to follow suit. He said the bill enjoyed strong bipartisan support.

Randy Hanson can be reached at rhanson@rivertowns.net

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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