Barrett wants to use $30 million of COVID relief money on housing activities

Mayor Tom Barrett
Mayor Tom Barrett

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is proposing to use $30 million of federal COVID-19 relief funding on housing activities in the city.

Barrett revealed his proposal on Sunday. Under his plan, the city would use a portion of the roughly $394 million it got from the federal American Rescue Plan Act on various housing initiatives.

It includes $15 million for gap funding and infrastucture investments that would help create more than 300 units on or around the Westlawn site on the city’s north side.

Another $3 million would expand Milwaukee’s Compliance Loan Program, and $2 million would assist three affordable housing projects under development that are facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those three projects are the 38-unit City Place II, Washington Park scattered sites and the proposed 79-unit Eighteen87 on Water project, Jeff Fleming, a spokesman for the mayor, said.

The rest of the $30 million would go toward the following:

  • $1.2 million for homebuyer and foreclosure counseling
  • $1.2 million for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee to expedite 2,000 housing vouchers for families with housing needs
  • $1.8 million to support an eviction-prevention program
  • $5 million for energy retrofitting in households struggling with high energy costs
  • $1.2 million for the Rental Housing Resource Center

“With the ARPA funds, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make substantial investments that can positively impact residents in Milwaukee. One of my priorities is safe, affordable housing options for people here,” Barrett said. “By prioritizing housing investments in the city’s most economically challenged neighborhoods, we are addressing an important need that disproportionately affects low-income neighborhoods.”

The proposal is much smaller than the $150 million for affordable housing that Common Council members recently considered.

Introduced by Alderman Robert Bauman, that proposal would rehabilitate 700 city-owned properties that would create homes for at least 1,000 people, among other things.

Barrett also today announced a $13.8 million proposal to promote job readiness and employment opportunities.

The mayor’s proposals will be reviewed by the Common Council over the next several weeks.

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Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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