Graham Kilmer

Habitat Begins Construction Season With Big Goals

Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity plans to build 32 new homes for first-time homebuyers in 2024.

By - May 16th, 2024 01:20 pm
Milwaukee Brewers players help raise a wall. Photo by Scott Paulus.

Milwaukee Brewers players help raise a wall. Photo by Scott Paulus.

Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity kicked off construction season Tuesday with an ambitious plan to double the number of homes it builds every year.

The nonprofit began the 2024 season with a ceremonial wall raising in the Harambee neighborhood. The home is being built thanks to funding from the Milwaukee Brewers Community Foundation, and Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff, infielder Joey Ortiz and pitcher DL Hall were on site to help hoist the frame.

Habitat is able to sell homes that cost more than $200,000 to build for less than $150,000, using philanthropic support and volunteer labor to fill the gap. And in 2024, the nonprofit plans to build 32 homes in near northside neighborhoods like Harambee, Lindsay Heights, Midtown and King Park.

Last year, the nonprofit announced its plans to double the number of homes it builds by 2028, bringing it to 40 new, affordable homes annually.

Just a couple years ago we were building 20 homes per year,” said Jake Brandt, vice president of strategy and marketing, adding that Milwaukee Habitat will be among the top 10 chapters in the country if it achieves the goal.

Habitat is working with Milwaukee County and Emem Group to develop 120 new homes in the King Park neighborhood. Habitat will build 80 single-family homes and Emem will build another 40 units, which will be rented for 15 years and then sold to first-time homebuyers. The county is supporting the project with $6 million in federal funding allocated to the county through the American Rescue Plan Act grant.

This project is helping Habitat expand its footprint, Brandt said, but the organization has no desire to go back to doing 20 homes a year.

“So we are really working strategically to be able to not just get up to 40 homes, but sustain that level of production going forward,” he said.

The King Park project was drawn, in part, from an affordable housing plan the Community Development Alliance created for the city of Milwaukee. That plan, among other things, identified a great need for new affordable homes to close the homeownership gap between white and Black and Hispanic residents.

The plan states that Milwaukee needs 32,000 new Black and Latino homeowners to close this gap. A major part of achieving that will be creating thousands of new homes affordable to first-time homebuyers. That’s where organizations like Habitat come in.

“We exclusively sell these homes to first-time homebuyers earning below the median income,” Brandt said. “And these are homebuyers that have essentially, and increasingly, been squeezed out of the homeownership market due to the rising cost of housing in in Wisconsin.”

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