Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

City Awards Vouchers to 7 West Side Housing Projects

Awards will advance the creation or rehabilitation of 390 apartments.

By - May 10th, 2022 05:03 pm
801 N. 27th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

801 N. 27th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Federal housing vouchers will bolster a number of Near West Side housing developments, supporting the revitalization of the neighborhood.

The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee announced it was awarding the 149 vouchers to seven projects. The awards will advance the creation or rehabilitation of 390 apartments.

The vouchers, which will be assigned to specific units, cover approximately 70% of a qualifying tenant’s rent in a privately-owned building. They are being awarded after a request- for-proposals process.

“Our agency prides itself on being a strong community partner and valuable resource for affordable housing opportunities. As the largest affordable housing provider in the Near West Side, it is important for us to continue our partnerships in that neighborhood. The success of the Near West Side is our residents’ success,” said HACM Secretary-Executive Director Willie Hines, Jr. in a statement issued April 26.

Developer Rick Wiegand, a prominent stakeholder in the neighborhood, will leverage the credits to advance two projects. Wiegand is converting the former Milwaukee County City Campus, 2711 W. Wells St., into a 108-unit apartment building. Twenty-seven of the units will be designated for seniors through a voucher award.

Across the street, Wiegand is also redeveloping the Cecila Building, 801-813 N. 27th St. That project also received vouchers targeted at seniors, covering 25 of the 30 proposed units.

He is also developing the Grand Avenue Suites hotel in the former Grand Avenue School, 2708 W. Wisconsin Ave., and operates the Ambassador Hotel, 2308 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Other developments receiving vouchers include the AbleLight Cornerstone Village – Highland at 3200 W. Highland Blvd. The vouchers would cover 18 of the 70 planned units according to a HACM report. The development would replace a vacant Aurora Family Services facility and is also backed by low-income housing tax credits.

Gorman & Company received a voucher award to cover 25 of the 57 units planned for redevelopment at 2848 W. Wisconsin Ave.

TEAM Management received 25 vouchers for the 79-unit redevelopment of 3808 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Milwaukee Development Corporation received 25 senior-designated vouchers for the 40-unit redevelopment of 2835 W. Kilbourn Ave.

The smallest award, four vouchers, covers the six-unit redevelopment of the building at 2637-2631 W. State St. Jason WatersWaterview Investments Group is working on the project.

Developers will use the guaranteed rent payments associated with the vouchers to secure project financing. In a number of cases, such as the AbleLight proposal, the vouchers will be paired with other funding sources such as low-income housing tax credits.

The awards further HACM’s partnership with the Near West Side Partners and Marquette University on a $1.3 million transformation plan. Near West Side Partners is a nonprofit organization formed by Advocate Aurora Health, Harley-Davidson, Marquette, Molson Coors and the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation.

“Quality housing offers stability to families and to neighborhoods. With efforts like this one on the Near West Side, we are building community strength and making Milwaukee safer,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson in a statement. “This is a step forward in realizing the plans that the housing authority and local partners have put together.”

HACM’s developments at College Court, 3334 W. Highland Blvd., and Merrill Park, 226 N. 33rd St., are located in the area, as well five single-family homes on W. State St. Collectively the properties provide housing for 350 people.

Housing vouchers are commonly assigned to a household instead of a property, allowing a tenant to live in any private housing. Known as Section 8 housing, the program was created in 1974 and modified by Congress multiple times in the ensuing decades. It is intended as an alternative to build publicly-owned housing developments.

HACM awards project-based vouchers through its Housing Choice Voucher program. Twelve HACM-owned buildings are currently included in the project-based voucher program. According to its website, nearly 6,000 households are supported by HACM-administered housing vouchers.

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