Governor Scott Walker unveils $2 Million blight elimination program for Milwaukee

Milwaukee Common Council President and Alderman of the 15th District led the walk with Governor Walker as Mayor Tom Barrett and Alderman Bob Donovan along with others tour the 2500 block of North 34th street. Hines explained that his district has been one of the hardest hit area’s for foreclosures and city-owned properties, and will benefit from this financial commitment coming out of the Wisconsin Department of Finance. (Photo by Robert A. Bell)

Citing a need to improve public safety and positively impact property values, Governor Scott Walker this week announced a $2 million program to help the City of Milwaukee through the elimination of blighted properties. Governor Walker, Mayor Tom Barrett and a host of other city officials participated in a press conference announcing the program in the 2500 block of North 34th Street.

“We want to do our part to help,” Governor Walker said. The event drew many residents of the neighborhood, some of whom vocalized support of the program and its potential impact on helping to “clean up the neighborhood.”

Representatives from the Department of Finance (DFI), Ray Allen, Deputy Secretary, Secretary Peter Bildsten join Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett making the announcement on the State’s financial commitment assistance with the blighted property issue. Gov. Walker credited DFI with finding the funding to implement this plan. (Photo by Robert A. Bell)

“Vacant, dilapidated properties can serve as a haven for criminal activity, have an adverse impact on property values, and hinder economic growth,” Governor Walker said. “I am pleased to announce this investment helping Milwaukee rejuvenate neighborhoods affected by blight.”

Governor Walker toured the neighborhood with Mayor Barrett, Common Council President Willie Hines, Alderman Bob Donovan and Police Chief Edward Flynn. Several of the properties there are fire damaged and currently abandoned, which increases the likelihood of criminal activities in the area.

Mayor Barrett expressed his appreciation to Governor Walker for the program. “I really appreciate you being here,” Mayor Barrett said. “This is something that is desperately needed in this neighborhood.”

Pictured above is one of the many boarded up properties on this block on N.34th Street. (Photo by Robert A. Bell)

The Milwaukee blight program will be funded with various settlement funds received by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) and is an extension of a similar program launched last year. Under the 2012 program, 16 Wisconsin municipalities and non-profit groups were awarded just over $1.1 million for blight remediation projects.

A total of 85 properties were demolished as a result.

Of that total, $500,000 was invested to demolish 39 properties in Milwaukee.

Pictured above is one of the many boarded up properties on this block on N.34th Street. (Photo by Robert A. Bell)

“This program helped stabilize property values and created opportunities for meaningful development in the affected neighborhoods,” DFI Deputy Secretary Ray Allen said.

“Thanks to Governor Walker’s actions, the City of Milwaukee should be able to remove at least 200 blighted properties with this funding. In doing so, neighborhoods will become safer and property values should be favorably impacted.”

Under the 2013 Strategic Blight Elimination Program: DFI will fund the $2 million program with proceeds from various settlements. Milwaukee will provide a list of blighted properties the demolition of which will improve public safety.

Funds may be used for residential, commercial, or mixed-use properties. A maximum of $10,000 per property will be awarded, which represents about 80 percent of the demolition cost of the properties removed in the 2012 program.

Following the $2 million announcement from the Wisconsin Department of Finance, Governor Walker speaks with some residents who live on the 2500 block of 34th Street.

Common Council President Willie Hines, Jr. stated that this particular block of 34th Street in the 15th District (Hines’ district), was chosen for the Governor and the Department of Finance representatives to tour because of it being one of the hardest areas affected by foreclosures in the City of Milwaukee.

He also stated that the area has a substantial amount of city-owned properties, where there are current tenants.

The city plans to help prepare these tenants to be able to purchase the homes.