Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley signed contracts Tuesday providing $9.5 million for four affordable housing projects in suburban communities.
The funds will go towards projects in Brown Deer, Wauwatosa and South Milwaukee. The county executive and the county’s Housing Division made it a goal in 2022 to diversify the affordable housing available in metro Milwaukee by backing developments in communities that have historically been resistant to such projects.
“This is another huge step forward for the county, particularly in our work as we continue to increase the amount of safe and affordable housing in all neighborhoods throughout the county,” Crowley said.
Funding for the projects comes out of the county’s $185 million allocation of Affordable Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. In 2022, the county set aside $15 million in ARPA funding to support affordable suburban housing projects. The county worked with the Community Development Alliance to find projects to back and in January awarded funding to the first four projects Crowley signed off on Tuesday.
The projects include: $2 million for a project with 56 affordable units being developed by Jewish Family Services at 4114 W. Woodale Ave. in Brown Deer; $2.48 million for 56 units being developed by MSP Real Estate Inc. at 11500 W. Burleigh St. in the Mayfair Collection in Wauwatosa; $2.5 million for 82 affordable units to be incorporated into Scott Crawford Inc. and J. Jeffers & Co’s redevelopment of the former Bucyrus Plant, 1100 Milwaukee Ave., in South Milwaukee; and $2.5 million for 17 units at 7501 W. North Ave. in Wauwatosa being developed by Luther Group.
The project in Wauwatosa creating only 17 units is unique, relative to the others, in that the affordable units will be developed within a market-rate, mixed-use building and they will provide housing designed for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Funding suburban affordable housing is an idea that was part of the CDA’s Collective Affordable Housing Strategic Plan, which was developed after the CDA was formed as a coalition backed by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Zilber Family Foundation, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, Bader Philanthropies and the City of Milwaukee.
“Currently, in Milwaukee County, we have about 70,000 families who earn $15 an hour or less, but there’s only about 30,000 rentals that are available for them,” Crowley said, dramatizing the need for CDA’s affordable housing plan.
Crowley said affordable housing, and projects like the suburban developments, are important to realizing the “very ambitious goal” he set for himself to make Milwaukee County the healthiest in Wisconsin by achieving racial equity.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Shawn Rolland, co-chair of the county’s ARPA Task Force that reviewed and recommended the projects, called them the latest in a “winning streak” for the county on the housing front. “When your housing is affordable, everything in life becomes easier and you have more dollars that you can invest back into yourself, into your family and into your community.”
Still, James Mathy, county Housing Division administrator, said it will take “decades and decades” to meet the housing needs identified in CDA’s affordable housing plan.
Under Crowley, the county is also planning to build more than 100 new, affordable homes for first-time homebuyers in Milwaukee’s King Park neighborhood.