In August 2016, state officials announced a $4.5 million initiative aimed at combatting poverty in Milwaukee in the wake of civil unrest in the Sherman Park neighborhood.
A portion of the effort, $2 million, called for the rehabilitation of 100 homes and for another 100 to be demolished or deconstructed. The state Department of Financial Institutions reimburses the City of Milwaukee up to $10,000 for each home that’s either torn down or rehabbed.
The idea is to improve the appearance of city neighborhoods while also providing work opportunities to residents.
Through mid-July, the city had sold 82 homes to six developers, including Advance Construction Builders LLC, Jason Scott Realty & Management LLC, Gorman & Co., CUBE Development/FIT Investment Group, Ezekiel Community Development Corp. and Strong Blocks Real Estate LLC. Work was completed on 33 of those homes and another 40 were underway.
“The combination of $1 property sales and grant funding has provided an incentive for both mom-and-pop and large developers to tackle vacant, distressed properties and ready them for tenants and owner-occupant buyers,” said Martha Brown, deputy commissioner of the Milwaukee Department of City Development.
Through the end of August, 72 properties had been torn down. A new city ordinance, which went into effect Jan. 1, requires homes built in 1929 or earlier to be deconstructed instead of demolished. Tina Klose, a spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services, said the change means most homes will be deconstructed.
Milwaukee originally had until June 1 to complete work on the homes and submit reimbursement documents to the state. The deadline has since been extended to July 1, 2019 for rehabbed homes and to Dec.1, 2019 for deconstructed homes.