MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee nonprofit that helps people purchase affordable housing has a new initiative.

ACTS Housing is launching the Acts Homeownership Acquisition Fund.

The goal is to ensure that potential buyers can access affordable houses before they are sold to landlords or out-of-state buyers.

The new program will allow ACTS to purchase homes before they hit the market, then sell them directly to qualified buyers. According to data from the Community Development Alliance, about 40% of Milwaukee’s homes priced under $125,000 are purchased by landlords rather than owner-occupants. 

Dorothy York serves as Vice President of Real Estate for ACTS Housing. York is enthusiastic about the program because she hopes it will reduce competition for homebuyers trying to access affordable housing.

York said most homes sold through the program will be priced in the range of $90,000 to $150,000. 

“We have lost 12% of our homeowners since the economic downturn of 2008. We are losing 1,000 homeowners a year because of owner-occupied properties being sold to investors who are turning them into rentals,” York said. “The big picture is actually increasing the number of people owning homes in the city of Milwaukee.”

ACTS Housing has just completed the purchase and rehab work on their first home bought through the Homeownership Acquisition Fund. The home, located on the city’s northwest side, is now ready for a buyer.

Rae Johnson purchased a home with the assistance of ACTS prior to implementing this program. Johnson said seeing additional opportunities for Milwaukeeans to achieve the dream of homeownership is exciting.

“It feels really good to be in our house because it is ours, and we know we can that we can always just come home to it,” said Johnson.

Various community organizations have come together to kick-start the ACTS Homeownership Acquisition Fund, including a $1 million grant from the Zilber Family Foundation.

To learn more about ACTS Housing, visit their website.