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How local beer sales could help solve Milwaukee's affordable housing problem

Posted at 5:25 AM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 09:44:26-05

MILWAUKEE — Beer pairs well with good conversation, with a brat, and now in Milwaukee, it is being paired with a push to increase affordable housing.

It's become a staple of Milwaukee's beer scene, but Good City Brewing might have never been in this city. David Dupee was looking to leave after grad school until his eventual business partner served up a challenge. "He and his wife challenged me and my wife to stay in Milwaukee," recalled Dupee. "And we ended up buying a home and staying here. So we put down roots and I think homeownership is that first step toward really staying in a place and investing in it."

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That small decision, to buy a home became the catalyst for a string of big investments as Good City Brewing was born and branched from the East Side to the Deer District and then Wauwatosa. "But Milwaukee is bigger than the East Side," said Dupee. "It's bigger than downtown. We want to see the entire city flourish."

The brewery believes accomplishing that means eliminating the barriers to homeownership in Milwaukee. "Our new initiative, 1% For Our Home, is the latest manifestation of what it means for us to seek the good," said Dupee.

"Seek the Good" is the Good City's motto. And in Brew City the opportunity is overflowing. The company has committed to donating 1% of its annual revenue in support of affordable housing, funneled to 3 local non-profits — Habitat for Humanity, Acts Housing and The 30th Street Industrial Corridor.

"We really see homeownership as a means to really build financial stability, not just in the short term — but over time. And to do that it takes so much help," said Jake Brandt, director of marketing and communications for Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity.

And even in a challenging housing market, aided by community support, families are closing on homes in Milwaukee.

"Our best year ever was 2019 and we had 185 families close on homes with us that year," said Kelly Andrew, chief development and marketing officer for Acts Housing. "In 2021 we saw 305 families. So, a huge increase. I think the pandemic has really positioned people to think — if I'm going to be spending all this time at home I need a safe, secure space that I can call my own."

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The brewery believes accomplishing that means eliminating the barriers to homeownership in Milwaukee.

Also on tap — a pilot program with Acts Housing to provide home-buyer counseling for employees of Good City and seed money for down-payment assistance.

Dupee calls it a small way to say thank you to staff and to beer lovers in Milwaukee, for allowing them to stay in business through the pandemic. "Once you come out on the other side of it it's really humbling — because you realize what's carried you through is really your staff and your customers."

Good City Brewing also plans to host six 'Seek the Good Saturdays' in 2022. The brewery is inviting its staff and customers to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity build sites.

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