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New initiative for Harambee Neighborhood seeks to boost owner-occupant housing

The Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation (MLKEDC) recently announced “MLK Homes,” a new program designed to purchase and rehabilitate single-family homes and duplexes in order to resell these properties to owner-occupants in the Harambee neighborhood.

Properties will include both market rate and subsidized, or “affordable” investments. The MLK Homes initiative will focus on a specific area adjacent to Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive for development, and builds upon MLKEDC’s history over the past 20 years to improve conditions in the Harambee community.

Through the program, MLKEDC will also take an active role in managing the overall housing market in the Harambee neighborhood, by facilitating sales to owner-occupants and providing support to existing property owners.

“MLK Homes is a very tailored strategy that will consider the best fits for properties and people,” said Nicole Robbins, Housing and Real Estate Development Director for MLKEDC. “I’m excited to put my real estate and legal experience to work, while building relationships with current and potential home-owners in the community.

Funding sources for MLK Homes include the Local Initiatives Support Corporation Milwaukee (LISC Milwaukee), with federal funding from Housing and Urban Development Section IV.

“LISC looks for innovative and impactful models for our investments, and the MKE Homes promises both,” said LISC’s Executive Director, Donsia Strong Hill. “It builds on MLKEDC’s rich history of physical development in the neighborhood, while addressing the current and pressing need to mitigate displacement of current residents as downtown development reaches the adjacent neighborhoods

This work complements other initiatives including the recently established Harambee Neighborhood Improvement District (NID), which provides rehab financing for existing owner-occupants, and plans by Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity to target the area for housing development as part of their Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative beginning in 2021.

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Lee Matz

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