By Dylan Deprey
Whether there are mice in the attic or a clog in the pipe, there is a small business in Milwaukee for you.
Building and contracting services ranging from construction to lawn care made an appearance at the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee’s Section 3 contracting seminar. The seminar was meant to introduce Section 3 and explain the loan process for small businesses in the construction and rehabilitation sector.
The meeting was collaboration between the Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee. (HACM).
“We refer to HUD as the department of opportunity,” Antonio Riley, Midwest Regional Administrator for HUD, said.
Section 3 is a provision of the Housing and Urban Development Act that was enacted in 1968, created to help provide jobs for low and very low income individuals, as well as those utilizing federal housing assistance. Section 3 residents are defined as individuals that fall in the categories of low/very-low income or housing assistance.
“Section 3 sets the table, but you just have to season and cook the steak,” Riley said.
A Section 3 business is defined as being owned by a Section 3 resident or at least 30 percent of its employees being Section 3 residents of three years or later.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in Milwaukee has dropped from 5.4 percent in March 2015 to 5.0 percent in March of 2016. Milwaukee is also a hair under the national numbers of 5.1 percent.
“Our entire nation wins whenever a person is given the opportunity to apply their talent, their god given skills to improve themselves and improve their communities,” Riley said.
The SBA provided multiple types of loans offered to small businesses as well as the different ways of contracting. They offered the “game changer” way of breaking larger building contracts into smaller with the mentor/ protégé program. This allows corporations to provide work to small businesses.
Section 3 contractors are also eligible to apply to multiple registries for federal, state and local jobs. These registries range from bid matching services online to smartphone apps.
The Housing Authority of Milwaukee supports around 11,000 people through public and affordable housing as well as Housing Choice Voucher programs. HACM has also created a registry for Section 3 businesses and residents.
HACM also hired Section 3 contractors in the longterm redevelopment project of the Westlawn Choice Neighborhood Housing Project and continues to in the future.
“It takes a village to raise a village,” Tony Pérez, HACM secretary-executive director, said.
Candy Huffman, Contract Administrator of One Choice Construction was was in attendance. One Choice Construction has had a year under its belt and dabbles in everything from home improvements to lawn care.
“We want to bring jobs to the community and for those that are at a disadvantage,” Huffman said. Huffman noted the versatility in the type of jobs One Choice Construction takes on. This makes it a perfect launch pad to train those in the community that may need to acquire skills to make them noticeable for other opportunities.
One Choice plans to sign up for Section 3. They are hopeful in obtaining a contract with cleaning during the construction of the Bucks’ new arena.
“We were born and raised here; we believe in our city,” Huffman said.