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My Block: Rebuilding the north side with ‘full-time neighbors’

Posted at 2:07 PM, Nov 21, 2019

MILWAUKEE — Here’s a radical way to reconstruct a neighborhood: Buy the most rundown house on the block and completely refurbish it and hire a full-time neighbor, someone whose job is to just be a caring and loving community member.

“If you could take like the worst property in the entire neighborhood and you could make it be the most positive property in the neighborhood, you just completely flipped the script,” Kurt Owens said.

He is literally reconstructing his neighborhood, which is near 40th and Hampton, with the help of the non-profit organization he founded, Bridge Builders. It's designed to encourage neighborhood engagement through community construction projects.

In this edition of My Block, Kurt Owens shows TODAY'S TMJ4 around his Old North Milwaukee neighborhood. Where we went, what we talked about, and who we talked to was up to him. Kurt showed us how his neighborhood is on the rebound and what Old North Milwaukee is like through his eyes. All we asked was that he be honest and vulnerable with us.

Kurt said his neighborhood has a history and reputation of crime, but he is determined to turn that around by reconstructing one of the most rundown properties in the area and hiring a full-time neighbor.

“Impacting people with concern and love and compassion, and so I think that needs to be done full-time,” he said.

His organization, Bridge Builders, is just a few months from finishing the house and hiring that full-time neighbor. What’s more, they plan to recreate this throughout a 140-block area in North Milwaukee.

Watch the full story above.

If you want to nominate your neighborhood contact James Groh at or at his Facebook account JamesGrohTV.