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Environmental Loans (EL) Median Household Income (MHI)

In both the Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) and the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP), Environmental Loans (EL) uses a municipality's median household income (MHI) in multiple determinations: CWFP hardship assistance eligibility, CWFP hardship assistance amount, SDWLP project scoring, SDWLP interest rate, and principal forgiveness eligibility and percentage in both the CWFP and the SDWLP.

Definition of MHI

"Median household income" means MHI determined by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. This definition is included in the CWFP and SDWLP statutes and administrative codes.

How Environmental Loans uses MHIs

For State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2019 Projects:

  • Wisconsin State MHI = $53,357
  • 80% of State MHI for determinations = $42,952
    • Municipality's MHI must be $42,952 or less to meet the 80% of MHI criterion for program determinations.
    • DNR rounds the percentage to the nearest whole number from 1 decimal point; 80.5% or above does not meet the criterion.

For State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2018 Projects:

  • Wisconsin State MHI = $52,738
  • 80% of State MHI for determinations = $42,454
    • Municipality's MHI must be $42,454 or less to meet the 80% of MHI criterion for program determinations.
    • DNR rounds the percentage to the nearest whole number from 1 decimal point; 80.5% or above does not meet the criterion.

Clean Water Fund Program - Hardship Financial Assistance

The CWFP uses the MHI to determine whether a municipality is eligible for hardship financial assistance and how much assistance should be provided to an eligible municipality. In order to be eligible for hardship financial assistance, the municipality's MHI must be 80 percent or less of the state's MHI. Note: the Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) Hardship Program will cease after the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2018 funding cycle, with an exception for one (1) municipality for which a complete application for SFY 2019 funding can still be submitted by June 30, 2018.

Safe Drinking Water Loan Program

The SDWLP uses the MHI to determine whether a municipality is eligible for points in the financial need category of the priority scoring system. If eligible, the municipality may also qualify for the SDWLP's lower interest rate of 33 percent of market interest rate. The municipality's MHI must be 80 percent or less of the state's MHI in order to be eligible for financial need points and the lower interest rate.

Principal Forgiveness

The Environmental Loans programs use the MHI in determining whether a municipality is eligible to receive principal forgiveness (PF), and, if so, for what percentage of its project costs. The Environmental Loans Program uses the same affordability criteria and principal forgiveness allocation methodology for both its Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) and Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP).

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Determining your municipality's MHI

Environmental Loans uses MHIs published by the U.S. Census Bureau in the 5-year data releases from the American Community Survey (ACS) [exit DNR]. The U.S. Census Bureau no longer collects income data through the decennial (10-year) census and does not publish data for all types of municipalities eligible for CWFP and SDWLP funding.

1. Environmental Loans obtains the most recent MHIs for cities, villages, towns, and counties as these are readily available on the U.S. Census Bureau's website. MHIs for these municipalities are auto-populated in applicable fields of our online system for Intent to Apply (ITA) & Priority Evaluation and Ranking Formula (PERF) submittals.

2. If your municipality is NOT a city, village, or town:

  • Check the "Find your municipality's MHI" list above to see if the Census Bureau has designated your municipality as a CDP (Census Designated Place). The Census Bureau creates CDPs for unincorporated areas that have significant population density. Some of the CDPs in Wisconsin are sanitary districts, public inland lake protection and rehabilitation districts, and other types of special districts eligible for CWFP and SDWLP funding.

  • Look up a map [exit DNR] of the CDP you think may be your municipality. Do the boundaries of your district fall within the boundaries shown on the CDP map? If so, Environmental Loans will use the CDP MHI in making determinations for your project, and may request a map from you showing the boundaries of your district to document why we are using the CDP MHI.

3. Any applicant municipality that is not a city, village, town, or county, or is not designated as a CDP (Census Designated Place), must obtain an MHI from the U.S. Census Bureau and submit it to DNR Environmental Loans with documentation showing the MHI was obtained from ACS data through one of the options (3.a. - 3.d.) described below. The following types of municipalities must provide an MHI, unless they are listed as a CDP:

  • municipalities not listed on "Find your municipality's MHI" above
  • joint local water authority
  • metropolitan sewerage district (MSD), if requesting principal forgiveness (PF)
  • municipal water district
  • public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district
  • town sanitary district

3. a. An MHI derived by requesting a custom tabulation [exit DNR] of income data at the census block level from the ACS most recently published with 5-year data. NOTE: To obtain a custom tabulation, the municipality will likely need to compare a map showing the boundaries of the municipality to a census block map and determine which census blocks contain any portion of the municipality. The municipality would then submit the appropriate census block numbers to the Census Bureau with a request for a custom tabulation of a median household income figure for that set of identified blocks only.

3. b. The MHI of the census tract, block numbering area, or block group that encompasses the municipality. If the municipality falls within two or more census tracts, block numbering areas, or block groups, the median household income shall be weighted by the population of the municipality that resides within each census tract, block numbering area, or block group.

3. c. The MHI of the minor civil division, such as a town, within which the municipality is located. If the municipality falls within two or more minor civil divisions, the median household income shall be weighted by the population of the municipality that resides within each minor civil division.

3. d. An average MHI calculated by:

  • determining the published median household income of each member municipality if the applicant municipality, such as a joint local water authority or sanitary district, is made up of multiple municipalities, such as cities, villages, and census designated places (CDPs);
  • weighting each of those median household incomes by what percentage the individual municipality is of the total population;
  • summing the individual weighted median household incomes; and
  • dividing the sum by the total number of municipalities that are members of the applicant municipality.

4. If the service area of the water system within the boundaries of the municipality is different than the municipality's boundaries, the municipality may choose to follow the custom tabulation procedure as described in 3. a. above and submit the result to the department to use in lieu of the MHI obtained by the department as described in 1. or 2. above.

Contact information
Direct questions related to MHIs to:
Jeanne Cargill
Policy coordinator, statutes & codes specialist
EL section, Bureau of CFA
608-267-7587

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Last revised: Monday September 25 2017