Hundreds of people filed into the atrium and Common Council rooms at City Hall on Monday afternoon under the impression they could buy a city-owned foreclosed property for only $1, plus a grant to renovate it.
Close to an estimated 400 people learned it wasn’t that simple - or cheap - and that the housing initiative they were there for had specific requirements and cost an average of $50,000 to renovate. Qualifications most could not meet.
The Milwaukee Employment/Renovation Initiative is state-funded and designed for developers to renovate 100 foreclosed homes in the Greater Sherman Park area – Amani, Franklin Heights, MetCalfe, Fondy, and Century City. The meeting on Monday was to inform developers, not individuals.
“If I was able to get one home of these houses I would stay in it,” said Greg Thompson.
Thompson isn’t alone. The hundreds of residents who filled the Common Council meeting room said they were interested in buying a home to own.
However, the MERI program includes homes that have received no offers and are on the city’s extended housing list. The 100 homes cost up to $75,000 in renovations and repairs.
MERI is for buyers who met two requirements:
A) they would have to buy homes needing more than $10,000 in renovations.
B) they would have to hire local construction workers to perform those renovations.
However, city leaders and employees quickly took the opportunity to tell people about homebuyer programs they could qualify for, and scheduled another open meeting for Friday at 10:00 a.m.
Police were also called in for safety and building regulation purposes.
“I don't want people to be frustrated, I want them to look at how they can benefit from this money,” said Alderman Russell Stamper. “The word developer is overrated.”
Mayor Tom Barrett also addressed the crowds, telling them that while that not everyone who showed up would get a $1 home, the initiative would “bring back life to the neighborhood.”
“This will have a positive impact on the homes adjacent to the property. This is a win-win situation.”
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