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Urban League Young Professionals launch housing equity initiative

Fitchburg mayor Julia Aratta-Frata and alder Joe Maldonado speak with constituents at the Roots to Roofs event Thursday. Photo by Omar Waheed.

Urban League of Greater Madison’s Young Professionals (ULGMYP) launched a new initiative to combat the challenges in finding housing Thursday night with its Roots to Roofs: Equity Housing Fair. The two-hour long information session saw multiple groups ranging from banks, advocacy groups, property companies, a union and local government inform attendees on how to navigate the challenges in trying to acquire housing. Groups provided information for prospective and current renters, home buyers and commercial property owners with resources centralized at the Urban League’s office.

“The Urban League does have an initiative on housing justice for 2023 and it does span all the way through 2025. We are hoping by then we can make some changes in the city.” Kayla Conklin, from ULGMYP, said. “We care about the movement; we care about the people and that’s exactly why we’re here tonight.”

In all, 13 groups presented at the Roots to Roofs kickoff. Groups presented programs and resources for those seeking to better understand their options when it comes to housing.

Associated Bank presented its Program for Assisting Today’s Homebuyer (PATH) and Care Mortgage program.

PATH provides homebuyers with up to $5,000 for down payments and closing costs for purchasing a home. The program is eligible for both first time and repeat homebuyers to help alleviate the burden of rising housing costs, and in turn larger down payments.  Its Care Mortgage Program allows for applicants of mortgages to still apply without traditional credit by providing proof of recurring payments.

Another group who wants to change the scope of renter rights came out to promote their union. Madison Tenant Power provided information on its efforts for collective bargaining for renters, and advocate for fair leasing policies and creating a tenant bill of rights.

“Eliminating income requirements for three times the rent… people around town can’t afford that,” Paul Matthews from Madison Tenant Power said. “If you’re working in the service industry or retail, you can’t afford the requirements for rent around here.”

Fitchburg Mayor Julia Arata-Fratta, and Alder Joe Maldonado were there to speak on some of the efforts the city has created to promote affordable equitable housing. Fitchburg currently has programs to assist with down payments and tax increment financing for workforces in the city.

Political involvement was another staple in Roots to Roofs last night. The event had information for voter registration, as the next presidential primary approaches, and training on how to write a letter to local politicians.

The ULGMYP plans to continue to host similar events as part of their housing justice initiative in the future.