Mayor proposes ‘tiny houses’ plan to tackle housing crisis

SUPERIOR, WI. (KBJR 6) – Senior Mayor Jim Paine said there is a housing crisis in the city. Now he’s proposing a new partnership to create what he calls Affordable Tiny Homes.

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

The city has a number of vacant lots that Paine now wants to use to build eco-friendly tiny houses.

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

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 nonprofit to work with contractors to build the homes, which the mayor said will be small but not “tiny.”

The homes will be solar powered, so there will be little to no heating or electricity costs, and they will be sold at an affordable price to qualified parties.

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

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

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 for those who buy the tiny homes to accumulate wealth and equity over time.

The three lots were approved by the planning commission on Wednesday evening. Then the full council will vote on the approval, after which a development agreement can be reached and construction can begin.

The mayor said that wasn’t the only project the city would tackle to address housing issues. He said they will also work to invest in affordable rental housing, as well as help those renovating and repairing their homes to increase housing value for everyone in Superior.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the city would reduce rent prices rather than invest in affordable rental housing.

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