Milwaukee County Allocates $4.2 Million to Habitat for Humanity Homeownership Initiative
Brian Sonderman, the CEO of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, made an exciting announcement on Tuesday. Milwaukee County is set to invest $4.2 million, derived from the American Rescue Plan Act grants, into the construction of 80 affordable homes. These homes will be built across three neighborhoods in the city: King Park, Midtown, and Harambee. Furthermore, the Emem Group, based in Milwaukee, will receive funding to construct 20 duplexes, yielding 40 rental units in King Park.
According to Sonderman, this substantial investment serves as a “down payment” on Habitat’s mission to combat Milwaukee’s housing crisis and bridge the racial disparity gap among homeowners. This announcement was made in the presence of county officials, donors, and volunteers, all of whom are invested in the initiative’s success.
Sonderman was quick to point out that the goals of this initiative are in line with those of the Community Development Alliance (CDA). By 2028, Habitat aspires to double the number of families it serves. In the last year, Milwaukee Habitat constructed 20 new homes, with plans to double this number to 40 by 2028. The organization’s long-term aim is to consistently build or renovate over 30 homes per year.
The CDA has been instrumental in planning for housing development, guided by valuable input from local residents. CDA Chief Alliance Executive, Teig Whaley-Smith, shared survey findings that reveal a high demand for homeownership as external landlords acquire a significant proportion of local properties. Whaley-Smith emphasized the strong desire among residents for the opportunity to build generational wealth through homeownership.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley echoed these sentiments, stating that funding housing initiatives contributes towards the county’s goal of achieving racial equity. He believes the project will not only provide affordable housing, but also uplift the lives of families, business owners, and others residing in Milwaukee County.
Michael Emem, President and CEO of the Emem Group, the project’s sole developer, shared that the project will be financed primarily through federal tax credits, contributions from Milwaukee County, and philanthropic partners. This will enable the provision of homes below market rate for families.
In addition to the King Park projects, Habitat will also build ranch-style homes in Midtown. The funding for these efforts comes partly from the $7.5 million that Milwaukee County received from the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Neighborhood Investment Fund this year. Of this, $6 million was allocated directly to Habitat’s project, while $1.5 million went to Milwaukee County Parks.
Several partners, including Bader Philanthropies, SC Johnson Controls, Komatsu, MGIC, Wells Fargo, Milwaukee Tools, and Sargento, have each pledged to donate at least $100,000 this year, further supporting Habitat’s mission. The next project on the horizon for Habitat, as reported by The Daily Reporter, involves the construction of nine houses on a single block in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood.