By State Representative Evan Goyke
On our block it was the “Green Bay Packer House.”
I write ‘was’ because the City of Milwaukee has thankfully begun rehabilitating this historic home, which for too long sat abandoned, boarded up, and painted bright green and gold.
I love the Green Bay Packers, but those are not great colors for a home outside of Lombardi Avenue.
The “Packer House” has consistently been our block’s biggest problem. Frequent trespassing and vandalism plagued the property.
When there is a “Packer House” on your block, you bear the burdens of lowered property values, increased criminal activity, and overall deterioration of quality of life.
This year, the City of Milwaukee will boldly invest millions of dollars to alleviate this burden.
The State Department of Financial Institutions has committed two million dollars, but the State Legislature has yet to sincerely join the fight. This winter, I am introducing multiple bills to help our neighbors preserve, protect, and promote the sale of abandoned properties.
The five bills seek to protect abandoned properties from theft and vandalism; hold parties accountable if demolition becomes necessary; invest in community- building spaces when a property is demolished; provide incentives for the sale of foreclosed homes; and allow access to winterize and secure homes that are abandoned.
As the debate over these ideas begins, my hope is that our focus remains on the future and that we avoid the temptation to attach blame for the foreclosure crisis.
Shifting blame avoids debating solutions and serves no one.
Without excuse, the crisis of abandoned homes must be earnestly addressed and addressed now.
If you walk by the “Packer House” today, it still has boarded windows, but it has the protection of a new roof and lost its unattractive paint job.
Our block excitedly follows its rehabilitation, we chat about the progress, and we reminisce on what it used to be.
One coat of paint changed the feeling on our block.
We should do what we can to repeat this success. It can mean so much.
The five bills, introduced together, offer the legislature an opportunity to empower the private market, local units of government, and existing neighbors in the fight to save our neighborhoods, block-by-block, house-by-house.
It is my hope that these efforts will provide the mechanisms needed to move forward so our neighborhoods can once again be a place of prosperity and where families can live, love, and build their dreams together.
Vince Lombardi once stated, “The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.”
While Coach Lombardi may have disagreed with painting over the green and gold, he would applaud our block’s determination to rise again.