City of Milwaukee Department of City Development
Press Release

The City of Milwaukee’s Anti-Displacement Program Honored with an Excellence in Planning Award


The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association is recognizing the implementation of the City of Milwaukee Anti-Displacement Plan, including the creation of the MKE United Anti-Displacement Fund, with an Excellence in Planning Award.

The City of Milwaukee released A Place in the Neighborhood: An Anti-Displacement Plan for Neighborhoods Surrounding Downtown Milwaukee in February of 2018 and set to work immediately on implementing plan recommendations.  Efforts have included significant community engagement, adoption of an Anti-Displacement Neighborhood Preference Policy for new housing developments receiving City assistance, and targeted investment of resources through tax incremental financing to create new affordable housing developments in neighborhoods facing rising housing costs.

The award also specifically recognized the creation of the MKE United Anti-Displacement Fund in 2019 which combined the work of both the city and the private sector to insulate longtime homeowners from property tax increases they cannot afford.  The MKE United Anti-Displacement Fund utilized philanthropic and private contributions to assist eligible long-term homeowners in Halyard Park, Harambee, Brewer’s Hill, and Walker’s Point neighborhoods by providing assistance to offset the impact of rising property values on their property taxes.

“A lot of thoughtful work has gone into Milwaukee’s Anti-Displacement Plan prioritizing the interests of low- and moderate-income homeowners,” Mayor Tom Barrett said. “The program includes innovative ideas, but its most impressive aspect is the collaboration to implement the ideas.  The involvement of private sector partners, neighborhood residents, and the work of several Common Council members has made this initiative shine.”

The City’s Anti-Displacement efforts have been guided by strong leadership from the Milwaukee Common Council, where Ald. Milele Coggs, Ald. Jose Perez, and Ald. Russell Stamper have authored legislation to develop the Anti-Displacement Plan and advance its recommendations.

“It is so important to highlight the collaboration that has gone into the efforts here.  There are great neighbors and great neighborhoods surrounding downtown, and that’s why we have worked in multiple ways to confront displacement,” Alderwoman Coggs said.  “MKE United’s continuing efforts to advance the anti-displacement work, including fundraising, is appreciated.”

“MKE United’s focus on downtown neighborhoods connects our partners and community members who shape the strategies. The Greater Milwaukee Committee is committed to the MKE United vision of equitable growth and prosperity for our city’s downtown. This vision aligns with the GMC’s racial equity work across our initiatives,” Julia Taylor, President, Greater Milwaukee Committee said.  “We appreciate the APA’s recognition of the City of Milwaukee’s planning work. The city is an indispensable leader in the MKE United partnership. As we prepare to launch year two of the MKE United Anti-Displacement Fund, we know our community’s investment in downtown neighborhoods’ stability and prosperity has long-term implications. And for the families served by the Anti-Displacement Fund, the results are immediate – allowing long-time homeowners to avoid displacement and to remain and thrive in their homes and communities.”

“Long-time homeowners should be able to stay in and enjoy the neighborhoods they have nurtured and shaped through the years, even as those neighborhoods grow and change,” said Ellen Gilligan, Greater Milwaukee Foundation president and CEO. “While the partners of MKE United share that goal, it is the centering of residents’ voices and solutions that has turned ambition into meaningful action. The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is glad for the opportunity to house and support the MKE United Anti-Displacement fund as well as continue to bring forward the ideas of residents when issues affect their lives and communities.”

In announcing the award, the Wisconsin APA shared this observation from one of the award jurors:  “Intentional outreach; policy adoption (affordable housing TIF policy and preference policy); coordination between public, private, and philanthropic organizations; citizen input on priorities; and tracking of anti-displacement metrics are all promising indications that this project will be thoroughly implemented on the long-range time horizon mentioned. Especially important that careful consideration of national best practices within the local context was given. This project is inspiring and one that I hope will be replicated and built upon in other Midwestern communities.”

The MKE United Anti-Displacement Fund is now in its second year.  In its initial year, the Anti-Displacement Fund enrolled 111 homeowners. The Fund provided an average of $450 per household to assist homeowners with property tax increases. Seventy-four percent of Fund participants are homeowners of color, and participants have a median household income of $22,000. Most are elderly homeowners, and participants have owned their homes for 22 years on average.  MKE United is a cross-sector partnership to create a shared and inclusive vision for Downtown Milwaukee and its adjacent neighborhoods let by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Milwaukee Urban League, LISC-Milwaukee, and the City of Milwaukee.

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