By PrincessSafiya Byers
Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Visit milwaukeenns.org.
Acts Housing broke its own record in 2021, helping 305 families purchase homes.
Now the organization is looking to add a dozen new members to its team because it believes there is more work to be done.
“While I’m thrilled, it’s not enough,” said Michael Gosman, the president, and CEO of Acts Housing. “We’re trying to figure out a way to significantly build on the progress we made.”
Acts Housing, at 2414 W. Vliet St., jumped from helping 183 purchase homes in its previous best year to 305 in 2021. The nonprofit organization provides homebuyer and financial coaching, lending and real estate services and home rehab coaching
There is a gap in Milwaukee’s Black homeownership. The organization saw a significant increase among prospective Black buyers to purchase homes through its program, going from 57 in 2020 to 145 in 2021.
Its success occurs against a backdrop of a housing market with low inventory and rising prices since 2020.
Gosman said the COIVD-19 pandemic created obstacles for his organization’s clients but said things are getting better.
“Once the barrier of needing to get to us was removed, we saw much larger numbers than before,” he said. “We were able to adapt to our families’ needs.”
Despite the progress, Gosman wants to see these numbers multiply.
“We have not had the capacity to serve the amount of people we’d like to serve well,” he said. “With the adequate number of staff, we can help multiply the numbers of families we are currently serving and get the word out to the community.”
Kyra Edwards purchased her first home through Acts Housing this year.
Edwards, 31, has been looking to buy a home for the past three years but said it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Acts.
“The banks don’t provide any help,” she said. “They don’t even answer your questions.”
She received credit repair and financial education through Acts Housing that she said was vital to her process.
“Finally receiving a preapproval was the best part of the process because that’s when I was sure I was going to have a house,” she said.
As a single mother of four, Edwards said owning a home serves as an example for her kids.
“I went from paying $900 a month in rent to $400 a month in mortgage,” she said. “I’m showing my children what we can do.”
Alex McCune, a homebuyer coach for Acts Housing, was moved to work in the housing market after reading the book, “Evicted,” by Matthew Desmond and realizing the strides the city needed to make in housing.
“I wanted to be able to create a change,” he said. “Seeing the strides Acts was already taking made me want to join the team.”
McCune was born and raised in Milwaukee and said the housing crisis becomes even more tangible when seen up close.
As a homebuyer coach, he meets with families and helps them with credit repair and budgeting.
“We want to help people at least get a preapproval,” he said.
McCune said the best part of his job is seeing people close with peace.
“Closing can really be a stressful time for people,” he said. “We look out for people and help them find something they feel good about.”
For more information
If you are interested in a career with Acts Housing, you can look here.
If you’d like to get coaching through Acts Housing, you can look here.