WAUWATOSA, Wis. — Milwaukee County leaders announced Monday they will use $19 million in federal Covid-19 relief money to help establish more affordable housing options.
Officials said $15 million will go towards lowering rents or building more units, $3 million will go to revamping houses in foreclosure, and $1 million will go to emergency energy assistance.
County Executive David Crowley says the effort is especially directed in the suburbs.
"Growing up, we came up against a lot of different housing insecurities, and so when you look at access to affordable housing, looking at the market rate, trying to buy a home, for many people it's out of their price point," Crowley said.
According to the latest U.S. Census data, more than half of homes in Milwaukee County are rented, and the median value of a home is $164,200.
"Wauwatosa has historically been a community of a widespread of housing options at many price points, and that's becoming less and less true," said Ann Heidkamp, who helps lead the Wauwatosa Joint Housing Coalition.
Officials also recognize how tough the market is for anyone looking for a place to live.
"I've talked to my neighbors, and many of them have seen their house value go up by $100,000 in the last couple years, and in and around this neighborhood," Milwaukee County Supervisor Shawn Rolland said. "So it becomes $100,000 more difficult for a young family, or a senior, or a person with a disability to find an affordable house."
For instance, Tricia Raasch says the home next door has been vacant for five years. She and her family helped take care of the man who lived there. When he died, he had no family to take the home.
"We were taking care of him, and I was doing his grocery shopping and my kids were taking care of his lawn, and we wanted it to go to someone who isn't going to come in and flip it for as much money as they make, but go to a family, go to a family who's going to love living here. It's a wonderful neighborhood," Raasch said.