Nearly 80 homes in Sherman Park area slated for redevelopment, mayor says

Nearly 80 homes in Sherman Park area slated for redevelopment, mayor says

by Mary Spicuzza

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

August 9, 2017

 

Nearly 80 foreclosed homes in the Sherman Park area are slated to be redeveloped, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced Wednesday.

The work is part of a $1 million housing rehabilitation program funded by the state, which was announced following last year's violent unrest in the Sherman Park neighborhood.

"We're pleased with the results up to this point. We know that there's more work to be done," Barrett said at a news conference, which was held in front of a N. 46th St. home being redeveloped by the Ezekiel Community Development Corp.

The money, provided by the state Department of Financial Institutions from a nationwide Volkswagen legal settlement, was given to subsidize the renovation of 100 tax-foreclosed homes.

So far, 78 homes have been acquired or reserved through the program, and 23 have been completed and sold, Barrett said.

"We're putting people to work," Barrett said. "We're creating hope, and we're creating opportunity right here in the community."

Ezekiel said the company focuses on transforming neighborhoods and employing residents who've struggled to find work.

"What we want to do is we want to create hope in the community," said Jim Gaillard, Ezekiel's vice president.

Gaillard said they aim to work with people who face barriers to employment, including those who've been incarcerated, and teach them trades so they can work as electricians and carpenters.

"We train these people. Each one of these houses is a classroom for us," Gaillard said. "We want to spend money in the community."

The effort was initially dubbed a "dollar homes" program when city officials announced it in January. That's because the homes are being sold for $1 each (plus fees) to developers and nonprofit groups, who are then eligible for grants of up to $10,000 per home. But the initial name of the program caused some confusion, including among those who gathered at City Hall hoping to receive a $1 home and $10,000 in cash immediately, before completing the required restoration work.

Six developers, most based in the Milwaukee area, were chosen to participate in the program. They include Ezekiel Community Development Corp., a Milwaukee-based nonprofit focused on rehabilitating foreclosed homes with the help of minority contractors and inmates who need practical work skills. Ezekiel then tries to sell the properties to first-time and low-income homeowners.

The other developers chosen were Gorman & Co.Strong Blocks Real Estate; Advance Investors; CUBE Development/ FIT Investment Group; and T.E.X LLC.

Strong Blocks specializes in rent-to-own arrangements with tenants.

The developers are required to employ some unemployed or underemployed Milwaukee residents for the work. All renovation work is supposed to be completed in the next 18 months.

The houses being renovated must be in the greater Sherman Park area, bounded by N. 60th St., N. 20th St., W. Capitol Drive and W. Lloyd St.

"Has there been progress? Yes. Is there more that needs to be done? Absolutely yes," Barrett said. "And I'm mindful of the fact that there are still far too many people who don't have jobs so they can support their families."