Couleecap head has high hopes for state homeownership task force

Hetti Brown At Presser
Hetti Brown, executive director of Couleecap Inc. and a member of Wisconsin Treasurers' Homeowners Task Force, addresses other task force members after their first meeting Wednesday.

MADISON (WKBT) – The newly formed Wisconsin Treasurers’ Homeowners Task Force is a major step toward relieving the stress of foreclosures and other housing issues, said task force member Hetti Brown, who also is executive director of Couleecap Inc.

“Wisconsinites struggle to keep up with rising costs of living, and therefore, lack the ability to save for a rainy day,” Brown said during a Madison news conference Wednesday where State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski convened the task force’s first meeting with other officials from around the state, including La Crosse County Treasurer Amy Twitchell.

The task force aims to help Wisconsin residents buy their first homes and flourish in them, among other goals. The group intends to create a network of local treasurers and community partners who will work to make sure home buyers understand the financial resources they will need to own and maintain their homes.

The task force also will create a warning system to let homeowners know if they are in danger of facing foreclosure. County and city treasurers often are able to identify early signs that a homeowner may be at risk, including delinquent payments for other services. The alert system would enable treasurers and other community advocates to help devise ways to avoid disclosure.

“Homeownership is a powerful tool to help families stabilize and build wealth that can be relied upon,” said Brown, whose nonprofit charitable organization headquartered in Westby helps people in need with housing, food, transportation and other issues to fight poverty and promote self-sufficiency in La Crosse, Crawford, Monroe and Vernon counties.

“We see firsthand the complex and challenging issues that many area families are dealing with,” Brown said.

“Owning a home is a big part of the American dream, but it’s often not easy to get there and stay there,” Godlewski said. “We’re seeing a decline in first-time home buyers in Wisconsin, and we’re also seeing people having a hard time staying in their homes, particularly seniors.

“This task force intends to explore these issues from the front lines with local treasurers and come up with solutions that can help empower taxpayers and keep Wisconsinites in their homes,” the state treasurer said.