Common Ground Southeastern Wisconsin
Press Release

Why Would the State Give $220 Million to Someone Whose Company is Destroying Milwaukee Neighborhoods?

Common Ground shines a light on Wesley Edens’ crumbling foreclosures

By - Jan 29th, 2015 11:12 am
Foreclosed properties controlled by Nationstar Mortgage.

Foreclosed properties controlled by Nationstar Mortgage.

On a cold Thursday morning in Milwaukee, over 30 Common Ground leaders, students, and neighbors held a press conference in front of a crumbling duplex on North 44th St. No one is paying taxes on the vacant building, and it has 23 code violations. It is only one of 300 foreclosed properties controlled by Nationstar Mortgage.

Wesley Edens owns the majority of the stock and is Chairman of the Board of Nationstar Mortgage Company. According to a plan Governor Walker announced Tuesday, Edens is about to receive $220 million in Wisconsin taxpayer dollars to help him build an arena for another of his properties, the Milwaukee Bucks.

Common Ground, a community-organizing group that inspected all 300 Nationstar properties in Milwaukee, is determined to prevent a taxpayer subsidy for a new arena without a significant investment in neighborhoods.

They are demanding that Edens meet with them to talk about his crumbling properties and how they are undermining the city of Milwaukee.

Lloyd Johnson, co-chair of Common Ground’s Fair Play team, explained that houses such as this not only cause problems in the neighborhood. “You and I are paying more taxes because Wes Edens is not taking care of this property,” he said. “It means that our tax money that could go to other services in our city is going to deal with houses like this.”

Edens’ Manhattan condominium,

Edens’ Manhattan condominium,

Participants received handouts that showed more deteriorating Nationstar properties and co-chair Jennifer O’Hear asked if they think Wesley Edens lives in houses like these. She then asked them to turn over their papers where they saw pictures of Edens’ Manhattan condominium, which is on the market for $17 million.

“We will not stop until Mr. Edens addresses his interests in neighborhoods with the same energy and intensity he gives his interests in a new Bucks arena,” O’Hear concluded.

ABOUT FAIR PLAY: Fair Play is Common Ground’s campaign to insert itself in the discussion about the use of public funds to build a new arena for the Bucks. It is our position that if public money is used to create a new arena for the Bucks, then at least $150–$250 million must be invested to upgrade and build public athletic facilities and playgrounds for children in Milwaukee County. If the Bucks get a great place to play, then our kids get great places to play.

ABOUT COMMON GROUND: Southeastern Wisconsin Common Ground (CG) is a 501(c)3 organization of congregations, religious groups, small businesses, non-profits, schools, unions and neighborhood associations whose mission is to address critical social issues in creative, non-partisan ways. CG’s 45+ member organizations live and work in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha Counties. Common Ground is part of a national network affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the oldest and largest institution for professional organizing in the United States.

For more information on Common Ground or the Fair Play Campaign, please visit: or

Fair Play Action Brief.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

Mentioned in This Press Release

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2 thoughts on “Why Would the State Give $220 Million to Someone Whose Company is Destroying Milwaukee Neighborhoods?”

  1. Ryan says:

    Come on… how is this decision by Scott Walker a poor one? This article seems to imply that the $220 million that Scott Walker has pledged will be directly coming out of the taxpayer’s wallet. In fact, this money will come from municipal bonds and upon maturity will be paid for by the increased revenue received by Wisconsin from players that is in excess of the approx. $6.52 million that WI already receives. Wisconsin will be the one facilitating (so to speak) this transaction, but it will in no way be funded by the taxpayers. In addition, the current $6.52 million collected goes into what’s called the ‘General Fund’ and from there may be allocated out to things such as parks, etc. Furthermore, the cost of not making this move would cost approx. $10 million annually, as early as 2017. This $10 million deficit would fall directly onto the taxpayers to bear, should that be the case. And to address the issue of Wesley Eden… it’s not like this money is going into his pocket and he is free to do what he wishes with it. If you really want to see investment in the community via homes that people have not cared to pay the mortgage on, why don’t we have people from the community submit proposals to fix up these properties using workers from the community? Just because Mr. Edens company was the bank who made the loan (or took it over), do you really feel it’s his burden to make the community better? I would argue that if the community wants it better, then community members should attempt that. Is that so crazy to assume a community should be responsible for itself? I thought that was part of the definition of a community.

  2. anon says:

    “his burden to make the community better? I would argue that if the community wants it better, then community members should attempt that. Is that so crazy to assume a community should be responsible for itself? I thought that was part of the definition of a community.” how you come in to possession of property has no bearing on your responsibilities as a property owner and i don’t see why you think it would. If it didn’t we’d live in world of owners as slum lords with no incentive to do anything except collect rental and user fees while creating nothing ( creating a net zero wealth while actually sucking up and hoarding wealth from other areas ) for the economy. The uncorrupted responsibilities ( also along with privilege ) of property ownership are things that make capitalism work. If his properties are a blight, they bring down property values and he should be held accountable for that instead of this corruption.

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