Jeramey Jannene

45 Sites Selected for Affordable Homes for Early Childhood Educators

Aiming to address workforce shortage and create more Black and Latino homeowners.

By - May 21st, 2024 09:43 am

VIA CDC affordable home at 1217 S. 35th St. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

A multi-million-dollar initiative to create affordable housing for a special group of workers — early childhood educators — is taking a major step forward. It’s part of a bigger goal of erasing racial disparities in homeownership by targeting mostly minority residents.

The project, from the Community Development Alliance (CDA) and LISC Milwaukee, has secured approval to purchase 45 vacant, city-owned lots on which it will contract with developers to construct three-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot homes. The City of Milwaukee will sell the properties for $1 each.

Construction on the first homes is to begin this year and the final homes are to be completed by early 2026.

The houses will be sold for approximately $100,000 to qualifying early childhood educators who make $20 or less per hour ($40,000 or less per year); because of that pay level there is typically a shortage of such workers. Based on the locations of the homes and affiliated child care providers, it is expected that most, if not all, of the future owners will be Black or Hispanic.

The houses are to be built near the facilities of five partner organizations: Next Door Foundation (2545 N. 29th St.); Children’s Outing Association Goldin Center (2320 W. Burleigh St.); Malaika Early Learning Center (125 W. Auer Ave.); United Community Center Ricardo Diaz Early Learning Academy (2130 W. Becher St.); and United Methodist Children’s Services Growing Tree Children’s Center (3940 W. Lisbon Ave.). According to a 2023 request for proposals (RFP), the five organizations’ client base is 80% families of color. Each of the centers is located in a low-income neighborhood.

“We have never built single-family homes, entry-level homes for Black and Latino Milwaukeeans,” said CDA Chief Alliance Executive Teig Whaley-Smith to the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on May 14. Guided by a 2021 report and plan that identified substantial racial and economic disparities in Milwaukee’s housing supply, the CDA has a goal of creating 32,000 new Black and Latino homeowners over the next three decades.

“Ninety-five percent of the single-family homes built in Milwaukee were built prior to 1968, when it was still legal to discriminate against Black and Latino families, which is exactly what people did,” said Whaley-Smith. Since then, he added, many suburban communities with available land have kept lower-income homeowners out by requiring minimum lot or building sizes.

A separate CDA-backed project with Acts Housing aims to block predatory landlords from buying homes, but CDA is pursuing several new construction strategies at once. Whaley-Smith previously said the goal is to build a pipeline of 100 new homes per year, and it will take several strategies to scale to that point.

“We are hoping this is a great beginning to more housing being built in these areas,” said Whaley-Smith. He praised the city’s Homes MKE effort to rehabilitate vacant homes, but said the city could not meet the need with just its tax foreclosures.

A $5 million grant, from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation, is essential to the project’s funding.

“It is expensive to build these homes,” said Whaley-Smith. “Construction rates have increased high above inflation.” He estimated that each home will cost $250,000 to develop, but it will be sold for approximately $100,000. The gap will be filled by the grant and other philanthropic support.

The new homeowners, according to the RFP, would go through homebuying counseling and have an $87,000, 30-year mortgage at 4% interest. The monthly mortgage payment, inclusive of taxes and insurance, is estimated to be $736 per month. Appliances are to be provided, as is a $15,000 downpayment. A lottery is being used to award the homes to qualifying individuals.

Deed restrictions will restrict how the house can be sold for a period of at least 15 years, and likely longer, said Whaley-Smith. “It’s not an opportunity for someone to flip the home,” he said.

Whaley-Smith said it was also important to view the subsidy with a long-term lens. “It’s not a subsidy for just one family. These homes will last more than 100 years,” he said. “This is subsidizing the home for 10 families.”

CDA and LISC are working to create not only new homeowners, but a pool of contractors that can build them.

Oby Nwabuzor‘s Envision Growth, Keith Turner‘s Turner Community Partners, VIA CDC‘s new development arm Sustainable Development and Washington Park-focused Rooted & Rising will each be given targeted sites to develop.

Both Nwabuzor and Turner are graduates of LISC’s highly-lauded Associates in Commercial Real Estate program, which is designed to train women and minorities for careers in real estate.

VIA recently completed a model home at 1217 S. 35th St. that serves as an example of what the 45 homes will look like. It’s also a model of a new building style that aims to reduce costs and speed up construction.

In the Milwaukee metro area, white residents are twice as likely to own their home as Black residents and 1.4 times more likely than Latino residents. Due to lower incomes and/or living in older properties that can require more spending, more than 55% of renters and 31% of homeowners in Milwaukee spend more than 30% of their household income on housing, a level the federal government and other agencies have labeled as “cost burdened.”

Home Locations



Metcalfe Park

Washington Park

South Side

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Related Legislation: File 231957

Categories: Real Estate

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