By Evan Casey
Habitat for Humanity held a groundbreaking ceremony last week Wednesday for their plan to build and repair 100 homes in three years in the Midtown neighborhood. Titled Midtown 100, Habitat for Humanity plans to build the highest concentration of affordable single-family homes ever built in Milwaukee since World War II.
A total of $10.3 million dollars will be invested in the Midtown area over the next three years in order to assure the housing will be safe and affordable. Families who qualify for the homes will help build the homes themselves, and pay an “affordable mortgage,” according to an agenda provided at the Groundbreaking Ceremony.
This was good news for Milwaukee Ald. Russell Stamper who was born and raised in the Midtown neighborhood. He was present at the event and spoke of the importance of bringing homes back to the community.
“We are building a community here and we are bringing home ownership, stability and happiness back,” said Stamper. “The property values will go back up, but most importantly, we will have people that will get to experience the American dream, which is home ownership.”
Nearly 60 percent of Milwaukee renters are currently living in unaffordable housing, a number that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett believes is too high.
“What you (Habitat for Humanity) are doing today is nothing short of amazing,” said Barrett at the event. “I have 100 percent confidence that they will produce [,and] it tells you the commitment that they have to this community.”
Habitat for Humanity are hoping to achieve their goal of revitalizing the neighborhood by building 65 new homes, repairing 20 homes in critical condition and repairing 15 “blighted” properties. According to their website, the Washington Park neighborhood has seen a 48 percent decrease in crime after they rebuilt homes there in 2013.
Habitat for Humanity are a Christian organization who works with volunteers to rebuild affordable homes in neighborhoods that need them. They were founded in 1976 and currently serve over 1,400 communities across the United States. They first came to Milwaukee in 1984 and have helped over 1,000 families in need of housing in Milwaukee to date.
Marquis Willis lives just blocks from where the first home will be built. He is excited about the work they will be doing in his community.
“You ride around the city of Milwaukee and you see a lot of boarded up houses,” said Willis. “The more houses being built, the more families you have that will have a safe place to live.”
Individuals can donate to the initiative by visiting their website at milwaukeehabitat.org.