Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Local Officials Praise Federal Investment in Affordable Housing

Mayor, county executive and Biden administration official tout housing program.

By - Apr 21st, 2024 09:53 am

Future county human services building rises behind new Habitat for Humanity home. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Federal officials, including a senior advisor to President Joe Biden, joined local leaders in Milwaukee’s King Park neighborhood Friday to talk up the role federal funds have played in creating affordable housing.

The highlight of the event was a handful of new homes built by Habitat for Humanity for the county’s homeownership project, which is creating 120 new homes for first time homebuyers in the King Park neighborhood.

Habitat is building 80 single-family homes that will be sold to first-time homebuyers for approximately $130,000. Developer Emem Group is building another 20 duplexes that will be rented for 15 years before being sold. All of the homes are being built on city-owned vacant lots.

In 2021, the homeownership project was set in motion when county policymakers allocated $6 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for new home development in the neighborhood. But the idea was drawn from a city-wide affordable housing plan developed by the Community Development Alliance in 2021.

The homes are also one piece of a larger ARPA investment in King Park, which includes $1.5 million for improvements to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, and $32 million for a new, $42 million human services building for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.

“We’re delivering federal funding to Milwaukee County through the American Rescue Plan Act,” County Executive David Crowley said, standing in front of three newly built homes. These new homes would “literally not be here” without that funding, he noted.

Officials toured a new three-bedroom home at the corner of W. Kneeland and N. 13th St. that is representative of the 80 homes Habitat will build on vacant lots in the neigborhood, said Brian Sonderman, CEO of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity. The home costs approximately $250,000 all-in, for construction and the services the organization provides to families. But it will sell to the new homeowner for approximately $130,000. The difference between those two figures is closed by the ARPA funding and private fundraising.

“The average family that will live in this type of home will have a mortgage of $950 a month or less,” Sonderman said. “So with that cost savings every month, not only do they have more to spend on health care, and savings on food and fuel, but they also have the ability to build generational wealth.”

Mayor Cavalier Johnson noted that the homeownership project is the result of a partnership between multiple layers of government, with city land, federal funding and county direction. “That is partnership,” he said. “It is partnership that’s making a difference in the lives of people right here in Milwaukee.”

Tom Perez, a senior advisor to the president for intergovernmental affairs, spoke on behalf of the Biden administration, promoting the president’s agenda on a number of issues including housing and health care, as he seeks re-election this fall. Perez is a longtime Democratic politician and official who served as Secretary of Labor during President Barack Obama‘s administration, and as Chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2017 to 2021.

Build, build, build,” he said. “That’s what you heard from Joe Biden in the State of the Union, talking about housing.”

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One thought on “MKE County: Local Officials Praise Federal Investment in Affordable Housing”

  1. Dmshrout says:

    This extensive project will benefit many Milwaukee families and neighborhoods for years to come. As a former Habitat volunteer, I am very to this project move forward.

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