The LBWN Rent-To-Own development initiative will provide housing opportunities for families interested in long-term homeownership without the resources or means to secure quality homes.
Through the Rent-To-Own program, families will rent rehabbed homes from month to month. LBWN will record a credit to families each month for 15 years, ultimately granting them a $36,000 credit toward the purchase of their home.
"This really responds to the desires of the neighbors, and we are so excited to transform these foreclosures into new homes for families and new commercial spaces for businesses," said Charlotte John-Gomez, LBWN executive director.
Funding for the $6 million endeavor is supported by a number of community partners including the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), Town Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank, U.S. Bank, the National Equity Fund, LISC Milwaukee, and the City of Milwaukee.
Wisconsin Redevelopment is serving as the owner representative for the Rent-To-Own Program, and Universal Construction Solutions will serve as the co-development's general contractor.
LBWN worked closed with a local realtor, the city and area neighbors to identify the properties to be rehabbed.
"We really tried to find foreclosures that would be most impactful on our neighborhood, especially with new families that would breathe new life into them," John-Gomez said.
Organizers aim to complete three residential units by the end of April and the remaining homes by early 2014. In renovating each property, they will incorporate a number of green elements, such as gutter and rain barrel systems to manage storm water.
The two commercial properties to be renovated are both located on National Avenue and will help to enliven the surrounding business community, according to John-Gomez.
"Those two units will really have such an impact on that Silver City Commercial District and really build on the momentum that's already happening there," John-Gomez said.
To fill one of the two commercial facilities, LBWN is hosting a business plan competition in partnership with the Silver City Economic Restructuring Committee, Impact Seven, the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation, the Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute, and the Zilber Family Foundation.
The competition will grant an entrepreneur space and supplementary support to kick start their idea into reality.
"We're looking for a business who can serve the neighborhood and be connected to it and become an anchor for the Silver City Commercial District," John-Gomez said.
The winner of the competition will receive $5,000 in start-up funding from the Zilber Family Foundation, free professional services and free rent as they launch their business. Interested applicants can submit their business plan at www.lbwn.org/businessplancompetition.
The LBWN Rent-To-Own development also addresses the Quality of Life Plan, an outline of seven neighborhood improvement strategies drawn up by more than 300 neighbors and partners throughout Layton Boulevard West and Milwaukee. The Quality of Life Plan, which is part of the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative, includes an emphasis on enhancing neighborhood appearance through the revitalization of both private properties and community spaces.
"Neighbors really wanted to address foreclosures and take away their blighting influence and find a way to renovate them," John-Gomez said.
LBWN, a nonprofit organization focused on community development in the Layton Boulevard West Neighborhood, unites neighbors and community groups to reduce crime, increase homeownership and promote economic growth. Impact Seven also contributes to community development with a nonprofit mission to make affordable housing more accessible.