Summit Examines Milwaukee's Affordable Housing Crisis

Nov 15, 2017

Cities around the country are facing an affordable housing crisis and Milwaukee is no different. That's one of the reasons this year's Henry W. Maier State of Milwaukee Summit at UWM is focusing on the city's on-going issues with housing. 

This year's topic also pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of the March on Milwaukee and the fight for fair housing in the city. 

The summit will feature a panel of experts, including Raphael Ramos and Kori Schneider-Peragine. Raphael Ramos is the director of the Legal Action of Wisconsin’s Eviction Defense Project. Kori Schneider-Peragine is the senior administrator of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council’s Inclusive Communities Program.

"The housing has to be affordable, but it also has to be decent in some way and that differs from the actual definitions that agencies use."

Both agree that the official definitions of "affordable housing" often don't include the many barriers and complex variables impacting the availability of viable housing. 

"The housing has to be affordable, but it also has to be decent in some way and that differs from the actual definitions that agencies use. But I think that concept is an important one and really shouldn't be lost when looking at what is affordable housing for people in the city," says Ramos. 

Schneider-Peragine adds that the location of housing is also an important factor in distinguishing whether or not affordable housing is appropriate housing for those in need. 

"If we're only going to have affordable housing - depending on how you define that - in already high-poverty areas, where crime might be high as well, is that really the kind of housing that we want?"

She asks, "If we’re only going to have affordable housing - depending on how you define that - in already high-poverty areas, where crime might be high as well, is that really the kind of housing that we want?" 

"If some of the ideas behind affordable housing [are] to provide stable housing in a safe neighborhood, with the ideal goal of allowing people to escape generational poverty, then perhaps we need to be thinking about some non-traditional neighborhoods where that housing is located," Schneider-Peragine says. "Perhaps looking at communities where the job growth is taking place at a higher rate than central city Milwaukee."

Both Ramos and Schneider-Peragine will be part of a panel on Milwaukee’s fair housing crisis on Thursday, November 16 at the UWM Student Union. The event is from 4:30 to 6:00.