Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity plans $18 million Harambee revitalization project

$1 million grant from Bader Philanthropies will kick-start the project

Daniel Bader at a Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity announcement.

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:32 pm

Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity unveiled plans Thursday for a $18 million project to build 100 new homes and repair 150 homes in the city’s northwest side neighborhoods over the next four years.

Bader Philanthropies has pledged $1 million in support of the effort. The grant will establish 40 new homes and complete 20 critical repair projects in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood.

Habitat plans to break ground on the Harambee project in spring 2020 as it continues to build, rehab and repair 100 homes in the Midtown neighborhood. The organization began its $10.3 million Midtown effort in 2018.

“This first grant from Bader Philanthropies increases our capacity to begin work in Harambee in 2020, a year earlier than planned, while still meeting our commitment to build, rehab and repair 100 homes in Midtown,” said Brian Sonderman, executive director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity. “In fact, we will be able to extend our commitment to Midtown and work in both neighborhoods concurrently in 2020 and 2021.”

Habitat’s neighborhood revitalization plan is aimed at addressing the cost burden for renters in Harambee. While nearly half of its residents live in poverty, median rents are more than $800 per month, similar to areas near Humboldt Park and Bay View, where poverty levels are less than 10%.

Milwaukee Habitat is designed to make home ownership affordable for low-to-moderate income first-time home buyers. Families that qualify for Milwaukee Habitat homes are earning 30% to 80% of Milwaukee’s median income and typically do not qualify for traditional lending products or cannot afford to pay market-rate to make needed repairs so they can stay in their home.

On average, Milwaukee Habitat homeowners spend 24% less per month on housing compared to what they had previously been paying for rent. Homeowners also complete between 210 to 370 hours of sweat equity, helping to build their own home and the homes of their neighbors, completing 35 hours of financial education and participating in neighborhood leadership and home maintenance courses.

Since its founding in 1984, Milwaukee Habitat has helped more than 1,300 families through new construction, rehabs and repairs in Milwaukee’s Amani, Harambee, Metcalfe Park, Midtown, Park West, Walnut Hill and Washington Park neighborhoods.

“Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity’s steadfast commitment to affordable and safe housing will spark hope in our neighborhood,” said Daniel Bader, president and chief executive officer of Bader Philanthropies. “We look forward to seeing more children run up and down the block and additional neighbors visiting with one another on a warm summer day. And, we will feel a sense of peace knowing that our elders are safe in the homes they have lived in for decades.”

Last year, Bader Philanthropies moved its headquarters from the Historic Third Ward to its new home at 3300 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in the Harambee neighborhood.

The foundation also recently awarded $100,000 to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation for its anti-displacement fund aimed at preventing gentrification in growing neighborhoods around downtown Milwaukee by helping homeowners pay their increasing property taxes. It is a new initiative to support lower-income, majority-minority neighborhoods around downtown.

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