Dear Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council President Michael Murphy:
I am writing to ask you to be bold.
In the coming weeks, you will meet with representatives of Nationstar Mortgage to determine how Nationstar will handle the properties it controls in Milwaukee.
That company controls almost 300 foreclosed properties in our city, too many of which are decaying. These properties create blight in neighborhoods, fail to contribute to our tax base, and drain city coffers of public health and safety funds. In addition, 1,600 Milwaukee families live in jeopardy of losing their homes unless Nationstar will work with them to refinance their mortgages.
In the coming weeks you will also meet with owners and officials of the Milwaukee Bucks to determine how the City of Milwaukee will support their efforts to build a new arena. Mayor Barrett and President Murphy, you have an opportunity to demand that Wesley Edens, Nationstar’s majority shareholder and Bucks co-owner, contribute to the city from which he demands public support.
The community group Common Ground, of which I am a member, offers the following as concrete steps that would demonstrate Mr. Edens’ and Nationstar’s willingness to act as a good corporate citizen:
1) Nationstar will donate $25 million to the City of Milwaukee Challenge Fund to foster the rehabilitation of foreclosed properties.
2) Nationstar will donate $5 million over five years to fund five to ten housing counselors to go door to door to work with the 1624 families on the delinquent and underwater loans that Nationstar services. The intention would be to prevent further mortgage foreclosures.
3) Nationstar will assign a full-time person on the Nationstar staff to work with Milwaukee housing counselors to restructure mortgages.
Common Ground secured $33.8 million from five banks during the last foreclosure crisis. We have already rehabilitated and resold 55 houses in Sherman Park and have committed to 45 more. As my colleague Jennifer O’Hear said recently, “If a little community group like Common Ground can get five international banks to give $33.8 million to address the foreclosure crisis in Milwaukee, surely the two most powerful leaders in Milwaukee, Mayor Barrett and President Murphy, can get $30 million from Nationstar.”
There is an opportunity for Milwaukee to strengthen communities, neighborhoods and families by requiring Nationstar Mortgage to work in good faith with the city and its citizens. Mayor Barrett and President Murphy, we are all counting on you to act boldly on behalf of our city.
Margaret Crowley, Common Ground leader