United Way announces new affordable housing fund

Fund seeks to address the affordable housing crisis in Dane County

Madison, WI (February 21, 2018) – United Way of Dane County is excited to announce the creation of a new Affordable Housing Fund! The fund, which will be housed in and managed by the United Way of Dane County Foundation, is intended to be a long-term strategy that will help create and sustain more affordable housing options in Dane County.

Over the last decade, United Way of Dane County and our partners have fundamentally changed the community’s approach to ending acute family homelessness by introducing best practices and directing resources that focus on housing over shelter as the solution. Since 2008, United Way has made significant progress, successfully housing nearly 1,600 families in 11 years and preventing thousands of others from becoming homeless. Through our Housing in Action strategies, we partner with the city, county, volunteers, partner agencies and donors to address the root causes of family homeless. For example, we provide families with quality case management, help them foster better relationships with their landlords, and give them increased access to affordable housing. This ultimately leads to more stable and healthy families.

The strategies employed by United Way and our partners have proven their effectiveness, but we rely on affordable housing for families to sustain their success. Dane County is currently experiencing a drastic shortage of affordable housing. A 2016 study by Kurt Paulsen of UW-Madison found that our community will need 1,000 new units of affordable housing built each year for the next 26 years in order to catch up and keep up with the need.

The Affordable Housing Fund is a pilot program designed to provide the capital needed to increase the inventory of affordable housing. Our hope is that it will attract current United Way supporters and new donors interested in reducing acute family homelessness.

While we are still in the beginning phases, we expect money raised for this innovative fund to be managed as follows:

  • Funds will be used to fill a funding gap in potential affordable housing projects.
  • Those projects will be identified by development partners, who can apply to our Affordable Housing Fund for dollars to close that gap.
  • Funds will provide long-term financing for projects.
  • Returns on investments will then be re-invested in future affordable housing projects.
  • Families will find stable housing and donors will see impactful results in the community.

“When families have a stable roof over their heads, kids are able to focus better in school, parents are able to perform better in their jobs, and families can come together in a consistent shared space to spend quality time together,” said United Way of Dane County President & CEO Renee Moe. “This Fund will help move more families into stable housing, and move the needle toward ending acute family homelessness in Dane County.”

“The creation of the Affordable Housing Fund is a perfect example of how the United Way of Dane County Foundation is looking to the future through mission-driven investing,” added Darrell Behnke, United Way Foundation Board of Trustees Chair. “We have the expertise, the thought leadership and the passion at the table, and the interest in collaboration with others who share our passion for ending family homelessness.”

If you are interested in learning more about The Affordable Housing Fund, please contact Molly Meister at molly.meister@uwdc.org.

If you are interested in becoming an investor, please contact Kristi Shepard at kristi.shepard@uwdc.org.


About United Way of Dane County:
United Way of Dane County fights for the education, financial stability, and health of everyone in Dane County. Through strategic partnerships and collaborative work, United Way brings the many voices of Dane County together to find common ground, develop a strategic architecture for change, and make measurable progress, while engaging organizations and individuals with the opportunity to give, advocate and volunteer to change lives in Dane County.


Families are considered acutely homeless if they are staying in emergency shelter, or in a place not meant for human habitation (i.e. cars, outdoors, or abandoned buildings).

The number of acutely homeless families has steadily decreased over the past five years. The annual July Point-in-Time count has gone from 140 in July 2013 to 84 in July 2017. [Source: Homeless Management Information System for Dane County]