The rehabilitation of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home and five other key projects recently approved by the Housing Trust Fund Advisory Board and the Milwaukee Common Council were announced on December 6 in front of the historic Old Main building on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.

The allocations were recommended for approval on November 9 by the Housing Trust Fund Advisory Board and were approved on November 28 by the Milwaukee Common Council. A total of $600,000 would be used to create 140 units of affordable housing for veterans and their families, as well as for low-income families.

Alderman Michael J. Murphy, chair of the Housing Trust Fund Advisory Board, was joined by project members for the announcement, including Mayor Tom Barrett, Kalan Haywood, and representatives from Save the Soldiers Home, The Alexander Company, Mueller Communications, Revitalize Milwaukee, IMPACT, Inc./Seven04, Community First MKE, Gibraltar Development of Milwaukee Corp., and Layton Boulevard West Neighbors. The allocation of funds comes after the conclusion of a capital campaign that was launched to support the project.

“The Soldiers Home encompasses several buildings that are among the most important historical structures in Milwaukee. The work funded by the Housing Trust Fund on the Soldiers Home grounds will allow the VA to continue to meet its goal there to provide low-cost housing to veterans and their families at risk of becoming homeless,” said Alderman Murphy. “The start of the holiday season makes this the perfect time to announce these important and life-improving awards.”

The work slated to take place at the Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home will rehabilitate the structure and create 80 residential units to assist veterans and their families. The Housing Trust Fund has awarded more than $7 million, leveraged a total of roughly $176 million, and delivered 1,094 units to area families. For every one dollar the city has invested in the Housing Trust Fund, there has been a return of nearly 25 dollars in projects to help those in need.

“Our veterans embody our American ideals of hard work, sacrifice, and resiliency. It is imperative that we honor our veteran’s sacrifices and take care of our service members when they return home, and this project does just that.”

Originally constructed in 1867, the Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District is one of three remaining original Soldiers Homes in the country. The homes were designed as places of refuge and recuperation for physically and mentally disabled soldiers who had survived the Civil War.

Milwaukee women funded the project by fundraising $100,000, which equated to millions of dollars today. President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation that established Soldiers Home across the nation just before his assassination.

The 2017 HTF recommendations include:

  • $150,000: The Milwaukee Soldiers Home to rehabilitate the structure and create 80 residential units to assist veterans and their families.
  • $80,000: Community First to address critical and emergency repairs in the Washington Park Neighborhood Improvement District. Funds will provide forgivable grants for up to 16 low-income units.
  • $40,000: Gibraltar Development of Milwaukee Corp. to replace a roofing system and address other urgent needs
  • $210,000: Seven04 Place Apartments to construct 60 new low-income families including targeted units for veterans and families endangered of becoming homeless.
  • $40,000: Layton Boulevard West Neighbors, Inc. for acquisition, renovation, and sale of two blighted properties.
  • $80,000: Revitalize Milwaukee to address necessary housing updates, repairs, and accessibility modifications for up to 20 low-income elderly homeowners.