The City of Milwaukee and Habitat for Humanity announced the continuation of their strong partnership to build new homes in the Harambee neighborhood on December 2.

With the support and leadership of Mayor Tom Barrett and Alderwoman Milele Coggs, the Milwaukee Common Council approved a resolution allowing the Department of City Development (DCD) to sell 41 vacant lots to Habitat for $1 per lot.

“This housing revitalization effort is delivering significant results for the Harambee neighborhood and its residents,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “Maintaining and increasing homeownership has long been a top priority for me. I am proud of the City’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity and Bader Philanthropies on this project. Together, we are building a stronger Milwaukee.”

The effort is part of Milwaukee Habitat’s plans to construct 80 homes over four years in the Harambee neighborhood. Bader Philanthropies provided $1 million to fund this project that will boost homeownership in Milwaukee and strengthen the neighborhood.

“As the cost of housing continues to rise, Habitat makes homeownership affordable for families earning below Milwaukee’s median income,” said Brian Sonderman, Executive Director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity. “This partnership is crucial to breaking down the barriers that all too many families face when trying to afford a safe, stable place to call home. By breaking down these barriers, local families will build stability and equity in homes they can truly call their own.”

Since 1984, Habitat for Humanity has built more than 600 homes in partnership with Milwaukee families. After several years of concentrating their work in the Washington Park, Walnut Hill and Midtown neighborhoods, Habitat began building new homes and renovating existing homes in the Harambee neighborhood in 2021.

“This effort is community collaboration at its finest We are strengthening the Harambee neighborhood and helping more residents become first-time homeowners,” said Alderwoman Milele Coggs. “I am proud to support this project that is moving the community forward.”

The construction of these single-family, owner-occupied homes will begin in spring 2022. Each home will be approximately 1,100-1,400 square feet, and will include 3-4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Once completed, the homes will be sold to first-time homebuyers for approximately $85,000 to $90,000.

“Our work with the Community Development Alliance identified that homeownership has decreased in Milwaukee over the years, disproportionately impacting majority Black neighborhoods like Harambee. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and take action to make the dream of homeownership a reality for more residents and families in our community,” said DCD Commissioner Lafayette Crump. “Our partnership is a win for Milwaukee that will help advance racial equity in homeownership, generate new tax revenue for the City, and provide affordable housing opportunities for Milwaukeeans.”

The President and CEO of Bader Philanthropies said that he was excited to see conversations turn into commitments and concrete action.

“This is an example of what is possible when we bring people together, talk about what is possible and take a stand for something bigger than ourselves,” said Daniel J. Bader. “We look forward to seeing vacant lots become homes for individuals who want to be a part of the Harambee neighborhood for years and decades to come.”

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Julia Papillon