MILWAUKEE — With a little elbow grease and the help of an entire community, a block in the Harambee neighborhood will soon transform into a place where families can put down roots and become first-time homeowners.
"Today is really the beginning of new dreams that are going to be made for Milwaukee families," said Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity executive director, Brian Sonderman.
That's the vision Milwaukee's Habitat for Humanity has for the neighborhood. As they officially kick off their 2022 build season, they're one step closer to creating an environment that makes it easy and affordable for people of color to build generational wealth.
"The disparity between white families that on their own home and African-American families that on their own home is nearly 50% in our community," said Sonderman.
According to officials, only 20% of people living in the Harambee neighborhood are homeowners. The rest are renters.
"I only know one person out of my whole family, in my whole generation, that is a homeowner. Everybody else rents," said future habitat homeowner, Channel McClellan.
Which is why Habitat for Humanity is trying to change that narrative by building 20 additional affordable homes in the neighborhood where houses normally cost between $60,000 and $70,000. This has created opportunities for people like McClellan to become homeowners.
"What we are able to do is provide an affordable new home where a family isn't going to have to spend money in those first 10+ years on major improvements," said Sonderman.
"That's one thing that I really do feel like our community needs because it's a lot of people in our community that don't have these resources and they are scared because they don't know what to do," said McClellan.
The end goal? To build as many homes as possible to increase the homeownership rate in Harambee from 20% to 50% or more over the next 5 years.