MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin Representatives Gwen Moore (D) and Bryan Steil (R), and Connecticut Representative Jim Himes (D) toured Milwaukee neighborhoods on Tuesday to learn about the economic disparities that exist.
They are all a part of the House Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth. Rep. Himes serves as the Chair of the committee.
The committee was created by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) in December of 2020.
In a statement from 2020, Speaker Pelosi said the committee "will be a resource to the congress to make policy related to economic fairness, access to education and workforce development."
The tour in Milwaukee took the representatives through neighborhoods like Lindsay Heights, Sherman Park and Bronzeville.
"It's a chance to think about solutions. Certainly not all aspects of this experience are unique. The affordable housing crisis is widespread across our nation," Rep. Moore said.
Rep Steil said, "I think we have an opportunity today to be forward looking. What are the policies that we can put in place today to move ourselves forward?"
Community stakeholders and leaders were also along for the tour.
As the bus headed down MLK Dr., Milwaukee Historian and the lead trainer of Nurturing Diversity Reggie Jackson gave context on a reinvented Bronzeville District.
"This is an area that is kind of undergoing a lot of redevelopment in recent years. So a lot of positive things are happening over here," Jackson said about the area that is home to America's Black Holocaust Museum and dozens of Black-owned businesses.
But there's also concern that as development continues in area like Bronzeville, property values will increase and ultimately long-time residents will be driven out.
"Where are those people going to go when property values become so high that they can't afford to live over here anymore? We have to make sure we have a plan in place for those people that (are) displaced and right now, I don't that there is a plan in place on the local, state or federal level to do that," Jackson said.
According to a 2019 report from UW-Milwaukee on "The State of Black Milwaukee," Milwaukee is one of the most racially segregated cities with one of the lowest Black home ownership rates in the country. Ultimately, that segregation leads to disparities in income, poverty, employment and schooling.
It's what Jackson called a "persistent problem here in Milwaukee."
While taking a look at some of the deep-rooted issues, the representatives also got to see the community solutions in the works to address disparities, especially when it comes to housing. The group was able to tour the still-under-construction "Community Within the Corridor," a soon-to-be affordable housing complex in the Sherman Park Neighborhood.