Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

City Seeking Affordable Housing Developers Who Need Funding

Housing Trust Fund has $10 million to award to worthy projects.

By - Jul 25th, 2022 12:29 pm
Villard Commons. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Villard Commons, a project supported by a Housing Trust Fund grant. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Have a proposal to create affordable housing in the city of Milwaukee? The City of Milwaukee would like to hear from you.

Last fall, the Common Council allocated a record $10 million to the Housing Trust Fund from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act. The amount eclipses the approximately $8 million the fund has received across its entire 15-year history.

Now the city is looking for projects to support.

“Today is really an exciting day,” said Alderman Michael Murphy at a press conference Monday morning to announce that a request for proposals was available.

“Hopefully that $10 million can leverage another $100 million or more,” said Ald. Robert Bauman.

The city sees a substantial impact from its contributions because of the nature of how the funding is allocated. A developer with a proposal that already has some other outside funding can come to the fund to close a financial gap. The housing fund augments, but does not replace, larger programs like the low-income housing tax credit program.

Since 2007, the city reports the fund has supported the creation of 1,264 housing units and leveraged more than $250 million from other financing sources. That includes supporting the $44 million redevelopment of Old Main at the Soldiers Home Complex into housing for military veterans at risk of or experiencing homelessness with a $225,000 grant, the 37th Street School redevelopment, the Villard Commons affordable apartment building in Old North Milwaukee, mulitple Habitat for Humanity projects and Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee‘s housing repair program.

Murphy credited the program’s success and lean operation to Community Development Grants Administration (CDGA) director Steve Mahan and associate director Mario Higgins. “Steve Mahan has been just a champion since its beginning,” said Murphy.

Bauman said the fund’s existence and CDGA’s efficient operation would ensure the funding was put to use quickly instead of waiting for a “new bureacracy” to be set up. Murphy and Bauman praised their council colleagues for supporting the affordable housing allocation. Joining the two in attendance were Council President Jose G. Perez, Ald. Scott Spiker, Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa, City Development Commissioner Lafayette Crump and Mahan.

“Neighborhood stability is a key element of public safety and affordable housing is a key component of that,” said Crump.

Responses to the RFP are due Aug. 12. A fund committee will review the applicants. The full council must approve the final grants.

The Housing Trust Fund allocation was one of several housing-related allocations made from the first half — $197.2 million — of the city’s ARPA grant. The council also allocated $15 million to rehabilitate 150 of the city’s approximately 700 foreclosed homes (an effort now known as Homes MKE), $9 million towards advancing the redevelopment of the Westlawn Gardens housing complex, $4.5 million to expand existing Department of City Development, $3 million for the city’s targeted demolition program, $1 million for the compliance loan program which awards low-income homeowners no-interest loans to make building-code-violation repairs and $1 million to the Environmental Collaboration Office to advance a modular housing factory.

A copy of the application is available on Urban Milwaukee. Additional information is available on the CDGA’s website

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