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Survey examines attitudes regarding the campus-area housing market

May 10, 2007

University of Wisconsin–Madison planners are conducting a survey to determine whether faculty and staff are interested in moving closer to campus, cutting commuting times and invigorating the housing market in campus-area neighborhoods.

The survey is part of a wider effort to determine whether workers would be interested in moving closer to the campus, St. Mary's Hospital and Meriter Hospital.

Changing student housing trends have softened the rental market in some neighborhoods, leading to higher vacancy rates and a sagging residential market, says Gary Brown, director of planning and landscape architecture for the university.

More students, Brown says, are moving to newly developed apartment buildings closer to campus and some are moving further away from campus, where rents are often cheaper. That means that more traditional student housing is vacant in those neighborhoods, specifically in the Greenbush and Vilas neighborhoods, south of Regent Street.

"Neighborhood residents would like to promote redevelopment and renovation of the existing housing market, and we see a benefit to providing convenient housing for campus employees, reducing their need to commute and our need to provide parking," Brown says.

The university has facilitated a discussion between employers, residents and City of Madison officials to determine whether providing incentives – possibly through a down payment assistance program – would be a sound investment.

The city has a variety of funding options available through their Community Development Authority and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority also has several mechanisms to assist in home ownership.

"We are interested in supporting the city's initiative to have employees live downtown," says Brown. "Doing so reduces traffic congestion on nearby streets and helps stabilize the local housing market."

The survey seeks information about where employees work now, how long they commute each day and whether they would be interested in living closer to campus and taking advantage of housing subsidy programs.

Although faculty and staff were scientifically selected for the survey, Brown says others who are interested may obtain a copy of the questionnaire after May 15 by calling Kerryann DiLoreto at the UW Survey Research Center at (608) 265-6598.