Milwaukee Habitat kicks off build season as it continues to construct 80 affordable homes in Harambee

Dan Bader, CEO of Bader Philanthropies. (Photo: Milwaukee Habitat)

Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity commenced construction Wednesday for this year’s build season, continuing its effort to add 80 new, affordable homes in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood.

City officials, nonprofit leaders and volunteers from Milwaukee Tool gathered Wednesday at the site of a new Harambee home to mark the start of construction.

As homes are completed, they are being sold to local families in need of affordable housing, with average monthly mortgage payments of $600-800. That’s compared to the average monthly cost to rent in the city, $900, and to own, $1,600.

“Homeownership brings stability, it brings pride, it brings a sense of accomplishment for families in our community,” said Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson. “We need more owner-occupied homes in our neighborhoods.”

Milwaukee Habitat works with families whose incomes fall between 30% and 80% of the county’s median income. Through its program, no down payment is required, closing costs are low, and the home loan doesn’t exceed 30% of a family’s income.

Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers, and home maintenance and financial education courses are also included as part of the program.

With many of the new homes being built on blocks together, Habitat says recent history shows crime decreases and property values increase when owner-occupied homes are clustered together.

Habitat kicked off its four-year effort to build new affordable homes in Harambee – a roughly $12 million investment – in early 2021. The Harambee neighborhood is located to the west of the city’s Riverwest neighborhood. Harambee is bounded by I-43 on the west, Keefe Avenue on the north, Holton Street on the east and North Avenue on the south.

The city sold 41 vacant lots in Harambee to Milwaukee Habitat in December, for $1 per lot, for the development.

Bader Philanthropies, which has its headquarters on King Drive in Harambee, has provided $1 million to help fund the project.

Habitat also plans to complete critical repairs on 160 homes on Milwaukee’s northwest side.

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