The Wisconsin Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (WI-CARH) was established in 1999 as a state chapter of the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing, a national not for profit organization dedicated to the advocacy of rural and affordable housing throughout the United States of America.

Welcome to Wisconsin CARH - Celebrating 25 Years!

WI-CARH Newsletter - Winter 2015

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WI-CARH's 18th Annual Conference a Success

By Russ Kaney, President, WI-CARH Board of Directors

Rural housing owners, managers, suppliers and vendors who serve the rural housing industry in Wisconsin came out on Thursday, November 5th for a great day of information, inspiration and networking. Well over 100 participated in this year's conference held at the Kalahari Resort & Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

The theme for the 2015 conference was "Rural Housing: 21st Century Solutions Required". As at past conferences, the State Director of Rural Development, Stan Gruszynski, kicked off our event with his perspectives on the state of rural housing in Wisconsin. Stan has been a solid advocate over the years for community involvement and the large role that Federal funding can play in Wisconsin.

WI-CARH was excited to bring Beth Hodges, President of Salter, Ltd to Wisconsin as our opening speaker. Beth covered an array of topics with an emphasis on 504 compliance and keeping properties in compliance with Rural Development rules and regulations. Beth has a wealth of experience and will return from Ohio to expand on these subjects and more at our spring training event to be held April 19th in Madison.

Our conference had a wide variety of vendors with products and services that meet the needs of the housing industry. Each vendor had the opportunity to introduce themselves and their products just before our morning break. Our morning sessions concluded with a technology update and the power of the internet as revealed by Luke Wolter of Streamroll. Finally, Colleen Fisher, Executive Director of the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing brought the audience up to speed on pending issues, including funding levels for all housing programs in Fiscal Year 2016.

Each year, WI-CARH presents a $1,000 scholarship to a deserving student seeking higher education. During our short program following lunch, our scholarship winner was announced and although she could not be present, a very appreciative letter was read on our winner's behalf. Our awards committee also presented the property, property manager and maintenance awards of the year. Finally, a very moving and heartfelt tribute was offered by Carol Wetuski of Rural Development remembering her/their/our colleague, Brent Hall. Brent passed away unexpectedly in June, 2015. He will be missed.

Immediately following lunch, a short business/membership meeting was held to review the 2015 accomplishments and to elect/reelect Board members. Congratulations to Rob Dicke of Dane County Housing Authority for becoming our newest Board member.

Our afternoon featured speaker was perfect for bringing an energy level and knowledge about customer service. Elaine Simpson provided lots of ideas and strategies to find and retain residents for your properties. Following a break with exhibitors, sessions on the Management Plan and a panel on "Smoke Free Housing" rounded out our day. A smoke free housing addendum is in the process of being made available through the WI-CARH lease process.

Raffle drawings helped end our day on a very positive note. We thank our sponsors, exhibitors and all attendees for making the 2016 conference a success. Many attendees stayed for the reception and gave everyone a chance to catch up on work, ideas and life.

A thank you to the Board of Directors for their efforts along with the conference committee in planning all the details of this conference. A special thank you to Laura Mason for her work preparing and coordinating this special event.

We look forward to seeing you at next year's conference.

Congratulations to WI-CARH's 2015 Award Winners

By Denise Loveland, WI-CARH Board Member and Chair of the Scholarship/Awards Committee

Property of the Year, Site Manager of the Year, and Maintenance Person of the Year were recognized at WI-CARH's 18th Annual Conference. Riverview Manor, owned by The Housing Authority of the City of Burlington Wisconsin was awarded the Property of the Year. The property was originally built in 1977 and 1984. Through use of the Rural Development MPR program, the Housing Authority was able to accomplish significant improvements to keep Riverview vital for many years to come. The $1.5 million in MPR funding impacted nearly every aspect of the building. Along with the refinancing came a reduction in debt service which allowed the Housing Authority to lower rents for the residents.

Eileen Olson, manager of Riverview Manor, was recognized as Manager of the Year. She has been with the 92-unit senior complex since June 2013. Her first task upon being hired was to bring to fruition the MPR application being worked by her predecessor for several years. Within a year of hire, the MPR loan was finalized and construction began shortly after. Testimonies from residents attest to her extra efforts in helping them through the difficult rehab process. She continues to provide personalized service to her residents, making them feel comfortable and secure in their homes.

Every site manager dreams of having maintenance that completes work orders efficiently, anticipates needs and looks for more work when one task is completed. Such a maintenance worker is Victor Rubach of the Housing Authority of the City of Burlington Wisconsin. Victor has been at Riverview Manor since December 2013. He is their carpenter, plumber, painter, mechanic, locksmith and janitor. He is a high energy worker, always ready and willing to help with whatever is needed. The residents clearly adore him and his manager is thankful to have him. Victor's work ethic exemplifies best practices for site maintenance. For this reason, Victor is Maintenance Person of the Year.

Nomination forms for 2016 awards will be available July 2016 and due back to the WI-CARH office by the end of September. Take the time to complete a nomination of a deserving person or property--you'll be glad you did!

Become a 2016 Member of WI-CARH

Renew Your Membership Today! Not a Current Member? Now's a Great Time to Join!

When you become a member of WI-CARH, you gain access to important tools, information, and services. The monetary benefits range from discounts on conferences, trainings, and leases to savings through the CARH Preferred Buyers Club program. This program includes Wells Fargo Insurance Services, HD Supply, The Sherwin-Williams Company, Staples and Online Rental Exchange. You also have the opportunity to meet industry leaders and to align yourself with a diverse group of business people involved in every sector of the affordable housing community. WI-CARH members include builders, developers, lenders, management companies, owners, non-profit agencies, and vendors. WI-CARH is committed to supporting their goals, CARH's goals, and yours. Most importantly, CARH's strong membership base helps to educate members of Congress and the Obama Administration about the issues that affect your business, the lives of your residents, and the future of the rural affordable housing industry.

New for 2016 -

  • Associate members will receive a 50% discount on their exhibitor fee at the Annual Conference.
  • Members can list their apartment communities on WI-CARH's website. Visitors to the site can search for affordable housing by city, feature, type or management company. There are two types of listings, free and premium ($50/listing/year). A free listing includes a marker on the map and basic information about the property. A premium listing will include photos of the property along with more detailed information and a larger marker on the map. Members must use their member log in to add listings to the site. Contact the WI-CARH office for more details.

More information on the benefits of membership can be found on our website. If you are a current member, invoices for 2016 were sent out at the beginning of December. If you are not a member, simply complete this form and mail it along with a check to WI-CARH.

WI-CARH's 2016 Residential Lease

Orders Now Being Accepted!

The WI-CARH lease is approved for use at any Rural Development supervised property. Using this lease for your property will insure that you are in compliance with Wisconsin law and RD and HUD regulations while saving you the expense of hiring a lawyer to do the same thing.

Since there were no changes to Wisconsin law that impacted the WI-CARH lease, the 2015 lease is still able to be used. A smoke free housing addendum is being reviewed by Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If it is approved, it will be made available as well. If your office uses the paper version of the lease, you can use any extra leases you have from 2015. Remember, per the agreement on the lease order form, you may not make copies of the lease except to provide a signed copy to the tenant and the office.

To purchase the lease, complete the lease order form found on our website and mail it in with your payment to the WI-CARH office.

Help Your Residents Achieve Their Education Goals

WI-CARH Now Accepting Scholarship Applications

WI-CARH's scholarship program began in 2007 with a goal of promoting education and expanding opportunities for residents of affordable housing in Wisconsin. A $1000 scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating high school senior or adult wishing to further their education. Eligible applicants can use the scholarship at any two year or higher accredited public or private school in the State of Wisconsin which offers an associate or undergraduate degree.

Applicants are judged on academic achievement, work performance, and career goals. Extracurricular school and community activities and achievements will also be considered. This scholarship award is open to any qualified tenant or resident family member living at a WI-CARH member's property or to any qualified person residing in a Wisconsin property which is part of a USDA Rural Development program.

The application deadline is April 30, 2016. All scholarship information and forms are available on WI-CARH's website.

In addition, CARH's Scholarship Foundation is accepting applications for their scholarships. Each scholarship recipient will receive $1000 per semester for educational expenses, with a maximum of four years of funding. The deadline for those scholarships is April 30, 2016, too. More information can be found on the CARH website,, under "Scholarship Foundation".

If you have a resident that you believe qualifies, please encourage them to apply to both the WI-CARH and the CARH scholarships. Christine Marriott said it best in her thank you letter stating, "Good people in hard circumstances often need assistance to change their lives." Let your residents know about these scholarships today, it could be just what they needing.

2016 Spring Training

Successfully Managing Your Affordable Housing Portfolio Presented by Beth Hodges of Salter, Ltd.

Affordable housing has lots of twists and turns. Compliance with multiple funding sources (RD, HUD, WHEDA, and HOME) can be confusing and frustrating. Our spring training seminar on Tuesday, April 19th will address these programs, providing you and your housing staff with the confidence of knowing you are meeting and exceeding the rules of the programs.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Layered regulation and programming
  • Income-assets
  • Pensions, annuities, IRA's
  • Reasonable accommodations
  • Family composition
  • Case studies

Who should attend:

  • Property owners
  • Property managers
  • Site personnel
  • Maintenance
  • Compliance and audit specialists

A Certificate of Completion will be provided at the end of the day to all in attendance.

Registration will open online on January 18th. Payment can be made by credit card at the time of registration or by mailing a check.

USDA Announces New Loan Modification Program

By Jeff Banker, Vice President, and Adam Diehl, Associate, Lancaster Pollard

Following the example of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)/Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now offering note modifications-a low-cost alternative for housing owners to reduce annual debt service and thereby increase the overall financial performance of the property.

Read the full article here.

Lancaster Pollard is a member of WI-CARH. To learn more about becoming a member, please visit our website.

Upcoming WI-CARH Events

February 9, 2016 - Liaison Meeting
10 am at USDA Rural Development, Stevens Point

April 19, 2016 - Spring Training: Successfully Managing Your Affordable Housing Portfolio
8:30 am at Crowne Plaza, Madison

May 10, 2016 - Board of Directors Meeting
10 am at Wisconsin Management Company, Inc., Madison

Laura Mason, Executive Assistant
PO Box 394, Mount Horeb, WI