City of Milwaukee leaders have set aside $1 million for public and private initiatives to demolish blighted and abandoned properties in the central city.
Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton announced the city’s funding program in a statement released this week.
The $1 million pool was created with Community Development Block Grant funds and money that Hamilton had earmarked in the city’s 2016 budget to assist children and families who experience trauma in their homes and neighborhoods.
The initiative will provide funding to certain public and private organizations that will identify and demolish vacant and blighted homes in four target areas that include the Washington Park, Harambee and Old North Milwaukee neighborhoods, and neighborhoods on the city’s near south side.
Hamilton said the city’s vacant and decrepit homes have become magnets for crime.
“We are striving to eliminate severely damaged properties in the city that have served as hiding places for criminal behavior, and we plan to get our community out of harm’s way from threats like vandalism, theft and intimidation,” Hamilton said in a statement.
Mike Gosman, executive director of ACTS Housing, said he hopes the city will be open to using some of the money allocated for demolition programs to support home remodeling and rehabilitation efforts. ACTS Housing connects Milwaukee families with grants and other resources they need to purchase foreclosed and blighted properties in the central city and fix them up.
“First of all, we appreciate attention on this issue, and everyone
can appreciate that homes that are boarded up and attracting crime should not remain in that state,” Gosman said. “I have no doubt there are properties included in what I imagine is in President Hamilton’s proposal that absolutely should be demolished. What I’d be interested in exploring with the council before properties are torn down is if there could be a window of time for some funds that would be used for demolition to be used to help fund rehabs and reclamation projects.”
The city has not yet determined which organizations it will partner with to begin demolishing homes or how many homes will be targeted.