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Mayor Barrett Prioritizes Investments in Housing in Plan for American Rescue Expenditures

July 11, 2021

MILWAUKEE—Mayor Tom Barrett is directing over $30 million to support housing activities in Milwaukee using funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The money is the first phase of ARPA funds to be deployed to increase housing and homeownership programs and to address potential displacement of residents stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the ARPA funds, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make substantial investments that can positively impact residents in Milwaukee. One of my priorities is safe, affordable housing options for people here,” Mayor Barrett said. “By prioritizing housing investments in the city’s most economically challenged neighborhoods, we are addressing an important need that disproportionately affects low-income neighborhoods.”

The Mayor made the announcement on Sunday in front of a home on North 54th Street where the owners previously used the City’s Compliance Loan Program to make needed repairs. The program allows economically qualified homeowners to get 0% interest deferred payment loans. Homeowners pay back the loan when selling or transferring the property. The Mayor’s proposal calls for $3 million in ARPA funds to be used to expand the Compliance Loan Program.

Other investments that promote affordable and sustainable housing include:

  • $2 million for three low-income housing projects currently under development to assist those projects in overcoming COVID-19 economic hurdles
  • $1.2 million for homebuyer and foreclosure counseling
  • $1.2 million for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee to expedite 2,000 housing vouchers for families with housing needs

The Mayor’s plan also includes $1.8 million to support an eviction prevention program. Working with the Legal Aid Society and United Way, the Right to Counsel program aims to reduce unscrupulous landlord practices and reduce unnecessary evictions.

Through a Climate, Energy, & Equity Upgrade program, the Mayor proposes helping households struggling with high energy costs through energy saving retrofits. $5 million in ARPA funds will be directed to this effort.

$15 million is planned for the Westlawn Choice Neighborhood Initiative project to provide gap funding and infrastructure investments, helping fund over 300 units on and around the Westlawn site.

And, $1.2 million is directed to the Rental Housing Resource Center in the Mayor’s plan. The Resource Center played a critical role in helping families during the pandemic, and this funding will help sustain and expand their work.

This first phase of the Mayor’s Recovery and Resilience Plan will be reviewed by the Milwaukee Common Council over the next several weeks.

Last August, the Mayor established a policy requiring City departments to integrate explicit consideration of racial equity in all decision making. Every program funded in the Mayor’s plan has been viewed from a racial equity lens.

In the coming days, the Mayor will publicly discuss other aspects of his Milwaukee Recovery and Resilience Plan, including investments in workforce, public health and safety and early childhood.

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