Housing & Property Improvements

Housing & Property Improvements

The City of Madison’s system of housing and property codes ensures that all structures and properties meet standards for safety, aesthetics, and general welfare. The City seeks the cooperation of all property owners and neighborhood associations in meeting these standards. The City also encourages neighborhood associations to initiate and develop ongoing, supportive relationships with property owners to maintain the unique aesthetic appeal of Madison’s neighborhoods. These cooperative neighborhood efforts are at the heart of Madison’s national reputation as a high-quality urban environment.

Neighborhood associations can build lasting partnerships with property owners by providing information on potential housing and property improvements and by providing assistance, where appropriate, for implementing improvements. While the Building Inspection Unit will respond to code violation reports, the City recommends that neighborhood associations contact appropriate property owners before contacting City staff regarding potential code violations.

How To Get Started:

City Housing and Property Code Violations:

 

·         Junk, trash, debris regularly in yards, driveways, or on the street terrace.

·         Broken windows.

·         Plantings in yard or on the street terrace that obstruct sidewalk passage.

·         Paint peeling or flaking on substantial portion of exterior surface of structure. 

·         Missing or loose bricks, including deteriorating mortar.

·         Missing, unattached, or deteriorated siding.

·         Trash cans/bags in front of buildings or on the street terrace except on City refuse collection day. Trash receptacles must be kept inside or at the rear of buildings except for the period 12 hours before to 24 hours after City refuse collection.

·         Inoperable cars parked on residential property, including cars that are stored in driveways or yards; are not driven; and appear to be inoperable due to missing parts, flat tires, and/or other damage.

·         Graffiti – refers to a wide range of vandalism, including any unauthorized writing, drawing, inscription, or other marking on a visible surface on public or private property.

·         Snow and ice on sidewalk. Property owners are responsible for removing or arranging for the removal of snow and ice on property abutting sidewalks by noon on the day after a snowfall.

·         Grass and weeds over 8 inches in height, particularly on properties where lack of maintenance is ongoing. Flowers, gardens, and other controlled plantings such as natural lawns (which require a permit) are not subject to height limits unless they obstruct visibility for vehicles.

·         Porches, fire escapes, balconies, chimneys in structural disrepair, including sagging support beams; broken exterior stairs; missing handrails; damaged or deteriorating support columns; holes in porches or decks; and fire escapes not securely attached to structures.

v     Identify housing improvement goals. If your neighborhood association plans to conduct property improvement outreach activities, the first step is to develop well-defined goals. Defining goals prior to outreach activities will help you clearly articulate your neighborhood improvement objectives to residents, businesses, property owners, and City officials.

v     Develop outreach and improvement guidelines. Based on your goals, identify the housing and property improvements on which you plan to focus your outreach activities. A helpful tool available from the Building Inspection Unit is the Exterior Inspection Checklist, which describes major and minor code violations that can be observed from the street or sidewalk. Neighborhood associations should focus on major violations and avoid outreach concerning interior property issues or matters of aesthetic taste such as style or color.

v     Contact property owner(s) to discuss potential improvements. The manner in which you contact the property owner(s) will create a first impression that is very important in building long-term neighborhood improvement relationships. An association representative should cordially contact the property owner(s) and describe your property improvement concerns. A formal letter with a follow-up visit or phone call is a good way to make initial contact. The Assessor’s Office (266-4531) can help you identify the property owner(s) for the address(es) of concern. 

v     Provide volunteer and resource information. Provide property owners with information on property improvement resources. Property owners may be eligible for financial assistance including low-interest or deferred City housing rehabilitation loans, low-interest loans through the City’s Capital Revolving Fund, or Federal or State Historic Preservation Tax Credits. In addition, you may wish to offer volunteer assistance through your neighborhood association or refer property owners to potential sources of volunteer assistance, especially for repairs and maintenance chores with which seniors and persons with disabilities may have difficulty. 

v     Contact the Building Inspection Unit concerning potential City code violations. If your initial contacts with the property owner are unsuccessful in resolving what you believe to be a City code violation, contact the Building Inspection Unit to discuss your concerns. Building Inspection staff will visit the site to determine code compliance and formally contact the property owner when appropriate.

v     Inform your district Alderperson of your request. Informing your district Alderperson of your building inspection request is recommended.

v     Recognize property owners for improvements. To build long-term cooperative relationships between your neighborhood association and property owners, it is often beneficial to formally recognize property owners for property improvements with a letter and/or a personal visit. 

v     Celebrate accomplishments. In neighborhood publications (with property owner’s consent), recognize all parties who contributed to a successful housing or property improvement project – property owners, neighborhood volunteers, and City staff. Such public recognition may lead to further successes in the future.

Successful Implementation: Trash or Treasure –

A Turnaround for Turnover Time in Tenney-Lapham

August 15. In the Isthmus, it strikes fear and loathing into the hearts of property owners, neighbors, trash collectors, and building inspectors – and rancor into the hearts of those who drive through “student areas.” Lining the curbs are couches, chairs, carpets, mattresses, sporting equipment, clothing, and general debris from students who are divesting themselves of belongings before either leaving town or rotating apartments. This creates both an ugly sight and a costly clean-up for the City. Then it’s made worse by scavengers, slashing open bags and boxes to see if anything of interest is inside and strewing debris about the street terrace and sidewalk. “The mess on Johnson and Gorham was obscene,” said Gigi Holland, a long-time Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association (TLNA) member and professional property manager who decided in 1995 that there had to be a better alternative for everyone. Holland and some fellow TLNA members dreamed up a program called Trash and Treasure to ensure that the next August 15 in the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood would be noticeably different. The idea: recycling the goods thrown out by students so that folks in need could have access to them, while ensuring that responsible parties cleaned up the mess. The following spring, TLNA members presented their idea at a neighborhood meeting followed by an article in the TLNA newsletter. Then, volunteers went door-to-door to distribute fliers donated by a neighborhood resident and printing business owner. Follow-up letters were mailed to landlords in May and June asking them to post Trash and Treasure fliers at their properties. When August 15 came around, St. Vincent de Paul had a big truck at James Madison Park and Goodwill Industries had a truck at Norris Court – both accepting donated belongings from students all day long. Local television and radio stations had been contacted in advance by TLNA and were on hand to provide great (and free) publicity. Unwanted belongings that were not donated were left at curbside for City collection, as in previous years, but this time there was much less roadside mess-making and two truckloads of donated goods that otherwise would have gong to waste. “Trash and Treasure started with the simple idea of giving people the opportunity to take positive actions for their neighbors,” says Holland, “and it has proved that simple ideas and committed neighborhood volunteers can make a big difference.”

Commonly Asked Questions:

Q:  When is a Building Permit required?

A:  A Building Permit is required when: 1) a project involves an addition or change to the interior or exterior of a structure which costs more than $500 (including materials and labor); 2) a project involves any type of electrical, heating, or plumbing work; 3) exterior work involves replacing window frames, reroofing, replacing siding, installing a swimming pool, adding a screen porch, or building a new storage shed, garage, deck, or house; or 4) interior work involves installing a hot tub or whirlpool, altering a bathroom or a kitchen, installing a furnace or central air conditioning unit, adding an electrical outlet, or changing the number of dwelling units in a structure. More information, including permit application materials and a series of “how to” brochures, is available from the Building Inspection Unit.

Q:  When is a Building Permit not required?

A:  A Building Permit is not required in order to: 1) paint the exterior or interior of a building; 2) resurface an existing driveway; 3) pour a concrete patio slab or walkway; 4) put up a fence that meets height and vision clearance standards; or 5) install gutters, downspouts, storm windows, or screens.

Contact:

Building Inspection Unit

Municipal Building, Rm. LL-100

215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Madison, WI 53703

Phone: 266-4551 Fax: 266-6377

e-mail: bldginspect@cityofmadison.com  

Homeownership, Rehabilitation, and Rent Assistance

Through homeownership, rehabilitation, and rental assistance programs, the City of Madison helps make quality housing financially feasible for City residents. Many residents in your neighborhood may not be aware of these housing improvement resources or how to obtain more information about them. Neighborhood associations can play an important role by providing information on City housing assistance programs to neighborhood residents, helping residents and property owners understand program information, and inviting City staff to speak to neighborhood residents. 

How To Get Started:

v     Contact program administrator(s). City housing program administrators can provide important information such as current household income-eligibility guidelines and other eligibility criteria. Program administrators can also help you think of ways to provide program information in your neighborhood. Review the program information provided below and contact appropriate program administrator(s) for more information.

v     Provide program information in your neighborhood. If you know of neighborhood residents or property owners who are interested in homeownership, housing rehabilitation, or assistance with rental payments, you can provide them with City housing assistance program information and help them decide whether a City resource may be appropriate. Also provide City housing assistance information in neighborhood publications. Interested neighborhood residents and property owners can contact program administrators for more information.

v     Invite program administrators to speak at neighborhood meetings. Neighborhood presentations by experienced program administrators can help neighborhood residents understand the benefits of housing assistance programs. 

Homeownership Assistance

The “Home-Buy” Downpayment/Closing Cost Assistance Program provides no-interest, deferred-payment loans to help homebuyers with downpayment and/or closing costs of first mortgage loans. Potential first-time buyers of single-family homes in Dane County who are approved for a first mortgage loan from a participating financial institution are eligible to apply for this program.

The AFFORDS® Lease-Purchase Homeownership Program provides assistance for the lease and purchase of eligible single-family homes through special mortgage financing arranged by the City of Madison Community Development Authority and private financial institutions. Potential buyers of single-family homes in the Cities of Madison, Fitchburg, Stoughton, and Verona are eligible to apply for this program.

The Modified Reverse Mortgage Program provides low-interest, deferred-payment loans to assist senior homeowners with annual property tax payments. Senior (age 65 and over) owner-occupants of single-family homes in the City of Madison are eligible to apply for this program.

Rehabilitation Assistance

The Housing Rehabilitation Deferred Payment Loan Program provides low-interest, deferred-payment loans for housing rehabilitation. Owner-occupants of single-family homes located in the program Target Area who own at least 10 percent equity in their homes are eligible to apply for this program.

The Housing Rehabilitation Installment Loan Program provides low-interest, monthly-repayment loans for housing rehabilitation. Owner-occupants of one- to four-unit residential properties located in the program Target Area who own at least 10 percent equity in their homes are eligible to apply for this program.

The Homebuyer’s Assistance Loan Program provides low-interest, monthly-repayment loans for housing rehabilitation. Potential buyers of one- to four-unit residential properties in the program Target Area who will be owner-occupants and can provide a five percent cash downpayment are eligible to apply for this program.

The Rental Rehabilitation Loan Program provides low-interest loans for housing rehabilitation. Owners of residential rental properties in the program Target Area in which occupants meet income guidelines and units meet affordability guidelines are eligible to apply for this program.

Commonly Asked Questions:

Q:  What is the Target Area for City housing rehabilitation loan programs?

A:  The rehabilitation program target area includes older residential areas closer to the City’s center. A Target Area map is available upon request.

Q:  What is housing “rehabilitation?”

A:  Housing rehabilitation can mean a wide variety of home improvements, but it has a specific meaning for City housing rehabilitation loans: these loans are provided to bring houses into compliance with the City Housing Code (Chapter 22 of City Ordinances).

Rent Assistance

Rent Certificates and Rent Vouchers provide monthly rental payment assistance for private housing units located by certificate/voucher recipients. Families of two or more persons with head of household over age 18; families of two or more persons, at least one of whom is elderly or permanently disabled; and single persons over age 18 are eligible to apply for this program. Applicants may not have drug use or violent crime history in the last three years. 

Low-Rent Housing Units in apartment buildings, townhouses, duplex apartments, and houses owned and operated by the Community Development Authority (CDA) provide subsidized, comfortable, safe, and well-maintained living environments for eligible households. The CDA offers housing for several special populations, including sites for seniors, sites for families with children, and sites for both seniors and persons with disabilities. Families of two or more persons with head of household over age 18; families of two or more persons, at least one of whom is elderly or permanently disabled; and single persons over age 18 are eligible to apply for this program. Applicants may not have drug use or violent crime history in the last three years and must have acceptable landlord references for the last three years. 

Commonly Asked Question:

Q:  Are there waiting lists for City rent assistance programs?

A:  Yes. The length of the waiting list depends on the specific program. The waiting list for rent vouchers/certificates is usually longer than for CDA-owned low-rent units.

City of Madison Housing Assistance Programs Summary

 

Program and Description*

Who’s Eligible?**

City Contact***

Homeownership Assistance

“Home-Buy” Downpayment/Closing Cost Assistance Program. No-interest, deferred-payment loans to help home-buyers with downpayment/closing costs of first mortgage loans. (Dane County)

Potential first-time home buyers (single-family, condominium, and ½-duplex) who are approved for a first mortgage loan from a participating financial institution. (Maximum Income: 80% of Dane County median)

Terri Goldbin, CED Unit

Rm. LL-100, MMB

Phone: 266-4223 Fax: 267-8739

e-mail: tgoldbin@cityofmadison.com  

Modified Reverse Mortgage Program. Low-interest, deferred-payment loans to assist with annual property tax payments. (Madison)

Senior (age 65 or over) owner-occupants of single-family homes. (Maximum Income: 72% of Dane County median)

Finance Department

Rm. 406, CCB

Phone: 266-4671 Fax: 267-8705

e-mail: finance@cityofmadison.com  

Rehabilitation Assistance

Housing Rehabilitation Deferred Payment Loan Program. Low-interest, deferred-payment loans for housing rehabilitation. (Target Area)

Owner-occupants of single-family homes who own at least 10% equity in their homes (Maximum Income: 80% of Dane County median)

Sharon Armstrong, CED Unit

Rm. LL-100, MMB

Phone: 266-6505 Fax: 267-8739

e-mail: sarmstrong@cityofmadison.com  

Housing Rehabilitation Installment Loan Program. Low-interest loans for housing rehabilitation. (Target Area)

Owner-occupants of 1 to 4-unit residential properties who own at least 10% equity in their homes. (Maximum Income: 100% of Dane County median)

Sharon Armstrong, CED Unit

Rm. LL-100, MMB

Phone: 266-6505 Fax: 267-8739

e-mail: sarmstrong@cityofmadison.com  

Homebuyer’s Assistance Loan Program. Low-interest loans for housing rehabilitation. (Target Area)

Potential buyers of 1 to 4-unit residential properties who will be owner-occupants and can provide at least a 5% downpayment. (Maximum Income: 100% of Dane County median)

Sharon Armstrong, CED Unit

Rm. LL-100, MMB

Phone: 266-6505 Fax: 267-8739

e-mail: sarmstrong@cityofmadison.com  

Rent Assistance

Rental Rehabilitation Loan Program. Low-interest loans for housing rehabilitation. (Target Area)

Owners of residential rental properties in which occupants meet income guidelines and units meet affordability guidelines. (Contact CED Unit for income-eligibility guidelines)

Sharon Armstrong, CED Unit

Rm. LL-100, MMB

Phone: 266-6505 Fax: 267-8739

e-mail: sarmstrong@cityofmadison.com  

Rent Certificates and Vouchers. The “Section 8 Program” monthly rental payment assistance for private housing units located by certificate/voucher recipients. (Madison) 

Families of 2 or more persons with head of household over age 18; families of 2 or more persons, at least one of whom is elderly or permanently disabled; and single persons over age 18. Applicants must have no drug use or violent crime history in the last three years. (Maximum Income: 50% of Dane County median)

Housing Operations Office

Rm. 318, MMB

Phone: 266-4675 Fax: 264-9291

e-mail: housing@cityofmadison.com  

Low-Rent Housing Units. Low-cost but well-maintained units in apartment buildings, townhouses, duplexes, and houses owned by the Community Development Authority (Madison)

Families of 2 or more persons with head of household over age 18; families of 2 or more persons, at least one of whom is elderly or permanently disabled; and single persons over age 18. Applicants must have no drug use or violent crime history in the last three years and must have acceptable landlord references for the last three years. (Maximum Income: 80% of Dane County median)

Housing Operations Office

Rm. 318, MMB

Phone: 266-4675 Fax: 264-9291

e-mail: housing@cityofmadison.com  

*          Program and eligibility descriptions are simplified. Contact program administrators for more information.

**        See the following page for 1997 Dane County median income figures.

***      CED Unit=Community and Economic Development Unit. MMB=Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Madison, WI 53703. CCB=City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Madison, WI 53703.

 

1999 Income-Eligibility Guidelines

City of Madison Housing Assistance Programs

How to Use This Table. Follow these steps to determine your income-eligibility for City housing assistance programs:

·         Review City of Madison Housing Assistance Program Summary Table on the previous page. Identify the program(s) that may be appropriate for your housing needs.

·         Review “Who’s Eligible?” column of City of Madison Housing Assistance Program Summary Table on the previous page. For each program, the maximum program-eligible household income is listed. Income limits are expressed as a percentage of Dane County median income.

·         Determine your gross annual household income (income from all sources before taxes) and your household size (number of persons in your household).

·         Review 1999 Dane County Median Income Guidelines below. Find the 1999 maximum household income for your household size and the program(s) in which you are interested. Specific income figures change annually. Contact program administrators for current income-eligibility figures.

·         Review “Helpful Examples” below.

1999 Dane County Median Income Guidelines

Household Size

100%

80%

50%

1

$43,000

$33,450

$21,500

2

$49,100

$38,250

$24,550

3

$55,300

$43,000

$27,650

4

$61,400

$47,300

$30,700

5

$66,300

$51,600

$33,150

6

$71,200

$55,450

$35,600

7

$76,100

$59,250

$38,050

8

$81,000

$63,100

$40,500

Helpful Examples

·         Mr. and Mrs. Morgan (both 70 years old) are moving out of their home. Their gross annual household income, including Social Security and other sources of income, is $33,000. To be eligible to live in Romnes Apartments, a City low-rent senior housing location, the Morgans must have a gross annual household income below 80 percent of Dane County’s median income, or $38,250 for a two-person household. The Morgans are eligible to apply for low-rent senior housing.

·         Maria has two children and wants to purchase a home. Although a local bank approved Maria for a first mortgage loan, she cannot afford the downpayment and closing costs required for the mortgage loan. Maria’s gross annual household income is $37,000. To be eligible for the “Home-Buy” Downpayment Closing Cost Assistance Program, Maria must have a gross annual household income below 80 percent of Dane County’s median income, or $43,000 for a three-person household. Since Maria is a first-time homebuyer, she is eligible to apply for the “Home-Buy” Program.

·         Yolanda and David Wilson have two children, own a single-family home, and would like to make several home improvements. They cannot afford the monthly payments for a home improvement loan from a local bank. The Housing Rehabilitation Deferred Loan Program could help since program interest rates are low and program loan repayment would be deferred until the Wilsons move. To be eligible for this program, the Wilsons must have a gross annual household income below 80 percent of Dane County’s median income, or $47,800 for a four-person household. The Wilsons’ gross annual household income is $42,000. Since the Wilsons own over 10 percent equity in their home and their home is located in the program Target Area, they are eligible to apply for the Housing Rehabilitation Deferred Loan Program.

 

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