WAUWATOSA, Wis. — Milwaukee Co. leaders hope $19 million will help solve housing access and affordability issues not just in the city, but in the suburbs too.

How Will Funds Be Spent?

  • $15M in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds will go toward boosting the supply of affordable housing

  • Most of those dollars will be spent on gap financing for projects that already have other sources of funding, such as low income housing tax credits

  • $3M will be spent on rehabilitating tax foreclosed homes in the suburbs

  • $1M has been allocated as emergency funding for Milwaukee County's Energy Assistance Program

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley hopes ARPA dollars can break down barriers to home ownership, especially for minorities.

“This isn't the end all be all, but this is a step closer to a our goal of reaching the type of equity that we want to see across the county,” Crowley said.

Foreclosed home at 6818 Maple Terrace in Wauwatosa, Wis. (Spectrum News/Anthony DaBruzzi)

Crowley signed the spending bill Monday in front of a foreclosed home, which is eligible to participate in the county's rehabilitation program.

The appropriations were unanimously approved by the Milwaukee County ARPA Task Force, as well as the Board of Supervisors.

“When you don't have access to the same amount of loans through the banks, or historically you won't get those loans, or haven't been getting those loans, you have barriers, but at the end of the day we have to work with all of our partners and this is bringing local municipalities, this is bringing contractors to the table to figure out how we increase affordability and access to these homes,” Crowley explained.

The house at 6818 Maple Terrace in Wauwatosa has sat empty for the last several years after the previous owner passed away and had no heirs.

Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride discusses the housing issues facing the city. (Spectrum News/Anthony DaBruzzi)

“As you can see, it's not just a city of wealth homes, but occasionally has a problem of upkeep,” Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride said. “It certainly has a problem of affordability. Every community in the country is facing this problem. Every public official is aware that we have a crisis of affordability.”

Local leaders couldn't put an exact number on how many people could benefit from the programs, but Milwaukee Co. Housing Division Administrator James Mathy expects somewhere between 24 to 100 units could result from the available gap financing.

As far as fixing up foreclosured homes, Mathy said that depends on inventory.

Crowley told reporters his goal for the initiative is as many homes as possible.