Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Many Housing Projects Get Funding Boost

Gov. Evers announces $25.5 million in grants for Milwaukee.

By - Feb 23rd, 2022 05:40 pm
Preliminary rendering of Martin Luther King Library and Garfield Theatre redevelopment. Rendering by JLA Architects.

Preliminary rendering of Martin Luther King Library and Garfield Theatre redevelopment. Rendering by JLA Architects.

A number of proposed affordable housing developments received an injection of funding Wednesday via a grant announcement from Governor Tony Evers.

Evers, visiting Milwaukee City Hall, announced that the City of Milwaukee will receive $15 million and Milwaukee County will receive $10.5 million from the state’s neighborhood investment fund grant program.

“These funds will help folks here in the greater Milwaukee area and help address challenges facing workers, families and communities,” said the governor.

Beyond housing, additional funding would go towards bolstering early childhood education and public safety projects. The city and county will provide the funding to the different projects.

“We often like to talk about connecting the dots, which is really just a fancy way of saying each and every one of these initiatives affects all of them,” said Evers.

The state is funding the grants from its federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

A detailed breakdown of the city’s allocation shows that eight projects will benefit.

“The state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds are being deployed thoughtfully here in Milwaukee,” said Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

A total of $6 million will be used to push the Westlawn redevelopment towards completion, with the city already allocating $9 million from its ARPA funds towards the project. “We are very, very honored by those dollars,” said Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee executive secretary Willie Hines, Jr. in an interview after the press conference. “It’s going to go a long way.” Additional funds could still be required to compensate for construction cost increases. The final phase includes 141 affordable units, 50 of which are for youth aging out of foster care, and construction of new roads, lighting and other infrastructure. Market rate housing is also planned, which HACM would subsidize with other funding sources.

The redevelopment of the Martin Luther King Library branch, 310 W. Locust St., will receive $2.9 million in state funding. It builds on a low-income housing tax credit award and $4.2 million in city ARPA funds. The project, led by a partnership of Emem Group and General Capital Group, includes 93 apartments spread over three buildings and a 17,000-square-foot library.

Four other affordable housing projects will receive $1 million each to close financing gaps. Those projects include Melissa Allen‘s 30-unit, scattered-site Harambee housing project (Bronzeville Estates), the 55-unit Five Points Lofts from KG Development and Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation, the 91-unit Riverwest Workforce Apartments & Food Accelerator development from KG Development and General Capital Group and the Edison School Apartments from Gorman & Company and Lutheran Social Services. Each of the projects has already been awarded low-income housing tax credits.

The United Community Center will receive $1 million to support the renovation of two buildings on its Burnham Campus with a goal of creating 200 additional spots for early childcare participants.

Public safety-focused Safe & Sound will receive $1.03 million to fund its redevelopment of a former church into its new headquarters in the Roosevelt Grove neighborhood. The project was announced in October 2021.

A detailed breakdown of Milwaukee County’s $10.5 million allocation was not available by the time of publication. A spokesperson for County Executive David Crowley said the information on the grant announcement came within the past day.

But Crowley’s remarks give a sense of where it’s going. He said some of the funding would support the renovation of the Martin Luther King Community Center in King Park ($1.5 million) and an investment in creating 100 new homes owned by people of color in the surrounding King Park neighborhood backed by low-income housing tax credits ($5.65 million).

“This is part of a larger vision we have for Milwaukee County,” said Crowley.

The county will also receive funding ($3 million) to purchase and renovate the Hillview Health Care Center, 1615 S. 22nd St., which houses the county’s pathways to permanent housing program and a food pantry.

“This is one of the most important pieces we have to the county’s homeless strategy,” said Crowley. “These dollars are going to go a long way.”

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article, based on Crowley’s remarks, said the Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center would be renovated. That project is not included in a project list provided by Milwaukee County, but the facility is referenced as an anchor facility for the King Park project. Specific grant figures have been added to the previously identified projects.


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