The Milwaukee Common Council has approved the sale of 41 vacant lots in the city’s Harambee neighborhood to Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, paving the way for the organization to move forward with its initiative to build 80 new homes in the north-side neighborhood.
The council approved a resolution allowing the Department of City Development to sell the land to Habitat for $1 per lot.
Habitat kicked off its four-year effort to build 80 new affordable homes in Harambee – a roughly $12 million investment – earlier this year. The Harambee neighborhood is located to the west of the city’s Riverwest neighborhood. Harambee is bounded by I-43 on the west, Keefe Avenue on the north, Holton Street on the east and North Avenue on the south.
The Habitat initiative also involves completing critical repairs on 160 homes on Milwaukee’s northwest side.
The project, first announced in December 2019, was delayed by a year because of COVID-related setbacks.
Bader Philanthropies, which has its headquarters on King Drive in Harambee, has provided $1 million to help fund the project.
“As the cost of housing continues to rise, Habitat makes homeownership affordable for families earning below Milwaukee’s median income,” said Brian Sonderman, executive director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity. “This partnership with the city of Milwaukee and Bader Philanthropies is crucial to breaking down the barriers that all too many families face when trying to afford a safe, stable place to call home. By breaking down these barriers, local families will build stability and equity in homes they can truly call their own.”
The multi-year initiative is focused on addressing the high cost of renting in Harambee relative to residents’ income. Currently, about one in three Milwaukee renters spends half or more of their income on housing. In Harambee, the median monthly rent is $800. For a new Habitat home, a typical mortgage payment is between $500 and $800.
The new houses will be single-family, owner-occupied homes, each approximately 1,100-1,400 square feet, and will include three-to-four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The homes will be sold to first-time homebuyers for approximately $85,000 to $90,000.
Habitat’s homeownership program is designed for low-to-moderate income first-time home buyers. Families that qualify for Habitat homes are earning 30% to 80% of Milwaukee’s median income and typically do not qualify for traditional lending products or cannot afford to pay market-rate to make needed repairs so they can stay in their home.