By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Housing is a basic human right, but not everyone has access to safe and affordable housing. During the COVID-19 pandemic housing issues in Milwaukee were further exacerbated. Mayor Tom Barrett recently announced his intention to put American Rescue Plan Act funding toward housing and homeownership programs.
“With the ARPA funds, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make substantial investments that can positively impact residents in Milwaukee,” Barrett said in a press release.
“One of my priorities is safe, affordable housing options for people here.”
The City of Milwaukee will receive over $390 million dollars in ARPA funding, Barrett said during a press conference on Sunday, July 11. He plans to put over $30 million to help alleviate Milwaukee’s housing issues.
“I view housing as one of the most pressing issues that the City of Milwaukee faces right now,” he said.
So far, approximately $3.8 million of the ARPA funding has been spent, Barrett said. The money went toward Employ Milwaukee to support summer youth employment, he said.
His housing proposal, which was submitted to the Common Council later this week, includes the following allocations: $3 million for the Compliance Loan Program, $2 million low-income housing projects, $1.2 million for Housing Authority, $1.8 million for eviction prevention programs, $1.2 million for the Rental Housing Resource Center and more.
“Every program that has been funded in this plan has been viewed through a racial equity lens,” Barrett said.
Barrett explained that he wants to put money toward the City of Milwaukee Compliance Loan Program, which helps homeowners get 0% interest deferred payment loans.
Westley Jackson Jr. is a Milwaukee homeowner. He and his wife have lived in their house since 1994. Jackson is currently retired, but when his house sprung a leak, he utilized the Compliance Loan Program.
“This program helped me afford to get a new roof and fix all the things, so it didn’t leak in the house anymore,” Jackson said. “I’ve been blessed, because I did not have the income to do that.”
He received the loan last year and was able to replace the whole roof and the gutters. This program helps people that are in need who can’t afford things, Jackson said.
“It was great,” he said.
Jackson noted that next year his title to the house will be paid off and he will get the title and deed to the house.
“Now you can all see why I wanted to put more money into this program,” Barrett said. “You can see the tangible results so clearly.”