Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

New Housing for Human Trafficking Victims

Foundations for Freedom will offer emergency housing for women forced into sex work.

By - May 18th, 2021 03:24 pm
Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The City of Milwaukee has found a partner and a building for a new emergency housing facility for victims of human trafficking.

Dana World-Patterson‘s Foundations for Freedom will acquire and renovate an eight-unit apartment building on the city’s north side.

The seven-year-old nonprofit works with females that have been compelled to provide commercial sex acts through physical force, fraud or other kinds of coercion.

“The buyer will use each unit as emergency housing,” said Department of City Development real estate services manager Amy Turim in presenting the plan to members of Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on Tuesday.

The city acquired the property in September 2019 via property tax foreclosure, around the same time Chantia Lewis was readying a budget amendment to earmark $300,000 for emergency housing.

Now the council will use $80,000 of that allocation to support Patterson’s project. The anticipated renovation costs, including the forgivable loan, are $120,000 according to a city report.

“I look forward to this project occurring,” said Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, in whose district the facility will be located. She represents the area and held a community meeting with neighbors to get their feedback. “I want to thank Alderwoman Lewis for her leadership on emergency housing.”

Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II is also sponsoring the funding allocation and property sale.

Foundations for Freedom will pay $1,000 for the building and is required to maintain it as a taxable property. World-Patterson must operate the facility for five years and submit annual reports for the no-interest loan to be forgiven.

With little discussion, the committee unanimously approved the proposal. The proposal will also require a special use variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals for its use as transitional housing.

“Thank you,” said Turim. “The developer is also extremely grateful.”

The discussion, or lack thereof, was a stark departure from February 2020 when committee members expressed frustration with what they perceived as inaction by DCD.

World-Patterson was one of the potential partners DCD said it had reached out to, but the department wanted to wait to let the selected partner drive the property selection. Coggs, Stamper and others pushed for DCD to pick the right property when it was available before finalizing the partner.

The city now has both a partner and a property, with cash left over to fund future projects.

A smaller forgivable loan, $17,724, was provided to Community Advocates in September 2020 to rehabilitate two homes for families needing emergency housing.

UPDATE: Urban Milwaukee has removed the address of this building to prevent it from appearing in future searches.

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