Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Supervisors Approve Affordable Housing Plans

Progress on two major affordable housing projects pushed by Crowley.

By - Dec 10th, 2022 01:25 pm
New houses rise along W. Harmon St. in Josey Heights. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

New houses rise along W. Harmon St. in Josey Heights. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A Milwaukee County Board committee provided key approvals that will allow county administrators to move forward with two major affordable housing projects.

One project is aimed at building more than 100 affordable homes in the King Park neighborhood that will eventually be sold to first-time homebuyers in the majority Black neighborhood. The second project will invest more than $2 million into a fund purchasing houses to keep them out of the hands of out-of-state investors gobbling up Milwaukee’s housing supply.

County Executive David Crowley and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) advanced a number of affordable housing initiatives in 2022; most have been made possible by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) stimulus funds the county received. Crowley implemented the government’s first strategic plan in 2020, creating an overarching mission for all county departments to make Milwaukee the healthiest county in Wisconsin by achieving racial equity. Stable housing is an integral piece of this equation for the county executive.

“The foundation of housing is one of the main social determinants of health, and there still remains a large gap as relates to homeownership for African-Americans throughout Milwaukee,” County Executive David Crowley said in July when he signed a spending resolution with funding for affordable housing projects in suburban communities.

King Park Homeownership Project

The county is investing approximately $8 million in the King Park Neighborhood through what DHHS is calling the King Park Homeownership Project. The money for the project comes from a Neighborhood Investment Fund grant from the state.

The county and the Community Development Alliance (CDA), an affiliation of local community development funders, recently awarded two contracts for the project which will use $6.5 million to build approximately 132 affordable homes to increase homeownership in the community. Additionally, $1.5 million in funding will be paired with $1.5 million in county ARPA funds for a $3 million rehabilitation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center at 1531 W. Vliet St.

Habitat for Humanity was awarded a contract to build 92 homes in the neighborhood that, once built, will be available for first-time homebuyers.

Emem Group, a local real estate firm and homebuilder, was awarded a contract to build up to 40 homes that will be developed using Affordable Housing Tax Credits. These homes will be rented out for a period of 15 years, after which they will be available to purchase.

This is important,” said Shakita LaGrant-McClain director of DHHS, “because it helps to pilot a long-term source of funding for building projects in the future.”

Acts Housing Homeownership Acquisition Fund

The county created a task force to vet spending proposals for its $183 million pool of ARPA federal stimulus funds.

In September, the task force recommended a proposal to invest approximately $2.6 million into a new fund being managed by Acts Housing that will be used to purchase homes in Milwaukee that would otherwise be purchased by predatory out-of-state investors.

LaGrant-McClain explained to the board’s Finance Committee that the project comes out of CDA’s collective affordable housing plan. The organization has partnered with Acts Housing to manage the fund, which has a goal of raising $11 million from local governments and the philanthropic community.

The fund will be used to purchase 100 homes each year, LaGrant-McClain said, preserving them for homeownership and assisting homebuyers with purchasing them.

Sup. Willie Johnson Jr. saluted the proposal and congratulated the county’s housing division for moving it forward. “This process is an investment,” he said. “It’s a community investment, and not only helps these families — the families that purchase the homes — it helps the community to build equity.”

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Categories: MKE County, Real Estate

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