Milwaukee’s Housing Trust Fund Needs Full Funding
According to the U.S. Census Bureau approximately a quarter of Milwaukeeans live in poverty. In response to this terrible reality, the Interfaith Conference as well other faith based and community organizations created the Milwaukee Housing Trust Fund Coalition. The result of this community organizing was the creation of the Housing Trust Fund in 2006. Initially the fund received $2.5 million in public funding but in this year’s budget its yearly funding has dwindled to only $400,000. Undoubtedly this is due to budgetary constraints but this decline hurts Milwaukee’s efforts to help low-income residents and particularly the homeless to pull themselves out of poverty. The economic, legal, and governmental realities of developing low-income housing deters private investment which is why increasing the level of public funding is vitally important to encourage significant private dollars.
Now I know some people may be of the belief that this is just another government handout and that it has no value to yourself or the City of Milwaukee. But I believe that this program in particular has benefits for all of us. First, it clearly encourages new development and investment in the city which adds to the tax base therefore helping to slow the rise of property taxes. It also often converts undesirable parcels of land from contaminated brownfields or long vacant lots to active uses. But more importantly, on any given night in Milwaukee, approximately 2,000 individuals are homeless, sleeping on our streets, in our alleys and under our overpasses, and this program works to give these people a new start.
It’s not to say that more funding for The Housing Trust Fund will end poverty and homelessness in Milwaukee, but it surely could alleviate some of the suffering and help some people rise out of poverty.