housing

Poor families in the United States are having an increasingly difficult time finding an affordable place to live, due to high rents, static incomes and a shortage of housing aid. Tenant advocates worry that the new tax bill, as well as potential cuts in housing aid, will make the problem worse.

Christine Thompson is eager to leave the two bedroom apartment she rents in a shabby house on the north side of Milwaukee. There are so many things wrong with the place.

"In the bathroom I have to turn my shower on in order for the light to come on. And when I turn the shower off, the light goes off," she says.

The apartment also has mice, cockroaches, and so many bedbugs that she and her sons — ages 3 and 7 — sleep on an air mattress on the dining room floor, where's there's no carpet. She also has no oven or stove, and water leaking from the ceiling.

Jeramey Jannene / Flickr

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. 

Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society

The late Lloyd Barbee is perhaps best known as the lawyer and state legislator who fought to desegregate Milwaukee’s public schools. A new book lays out just how broad Barbee’s fight for justice was.

Beyond education, Barbee pushed for open housing, women’s rights, and decolonization. He would often sign his letters with the quote - “Justice For All.” And that’s the title of the new book, Justice for All: Selected Writings of Lloyd A. Barbee.

The book is edited by his daughter -- another civil rights attorney -- Daphne Barbee-Wooten.

Courtesy of the City of Milwaukee

Low-income public housing projects used to be thought of as islands, often cut off from the rest of city life. They were densely populated, high-rise apartment complexes, often troubled by gangs, drugs and other criminal activities. But over the last decade or two, public housing design has shifted. High rises are giving way to a more neighborhood-based approach.

Youth Council Members Reflect On Milwaukee's Housing Marches

Sep 1, 2017
Courtesy of The Milwaukee Journal

The concerted push for open housing in Milwaukee began 50 years ago this week. Demonstrators marched for 200 consecutive days, trying to convince the Common Council to pass a fair housing ordinance.  The NAACP Youth Council played a major role in the movement. Journalism students at Marquette University interviewed a number of them this year, and shared their stories with WUWM.

WTMJ-TV, Wisconsin Historical Society, and UW-Milwaukee Libraries

It was 50 years ago that the open housing marches began in Milwaukee. For 200 nights civil rights activists marched from the mostly black northside over the 16th Street Bridge to city’s predominately white southside. They demanded a law to end discriminatory housing practices that prevented African Americans from living in white areas of the city.

 

A teenager named Prentice McKinney was at the center of those marches, leading the NAACP Youth Commandos.

Google Streetview, Image from October 2015

The State of Wisconsin wants a rent-to-own company to stop operating here. Based in South Carolina, Vision Property Management draws people into deals to rent or lease houses with the promise of eventually owning them.

formulanone / Flickr

It’s hard not to see the many changes currently happening in the city of Milwaukee. From the torn-up streets making way for the new Milwaukee Streetcar, to the ongoing construction of the new Bucks Arena - the city is making a visible transformation, unlike anything seen in recent decades.

And it’s not just Milwaukeeans who are taking notice. U.S. News and World Report just ranked Milwaukee as one of the top three up-and-coming places to live in the country.

On the south side of Dallas, Nena Eldridge lives in a sparse but spotless bungalow on a dusty lot. At $550 each month, her rent is just about the cheapest she could find in the city.

After an injury left her unable to work, the only income she receives is a $780 monthly disability check. So she has to make tough financial choices, like living without running water.

Courtesy of The Milwaukee Journal

Segregation in metro Milwaukee can be traced back, in part, to discriminatory housing practices like redlining and racial restrictive covenants. During the Civil Rights movement, there was large-scale pushback against such practices.

Sue Vliet

Jackie Burrell is looking forward to living in a new apartment after the entire western section of Westlawn, the state’s largest public housing development, is torn down and rebuilt. Burrell said her unit, which was built in the 1950s, sometimes floods when it rains and mold is an ongoing problem.

Susan Bence

Milwaukee real estate prices are on the rise. According to a new report that analyzed apartment listings in major U.S. cities from June to July of this year, Milwaukee saw the highest average increase in the country.

One bedroom rental listings went from an average of $880 in June to just over $1,000 in July. That's an increase of 15%.

Sondem / Fotolia

Milwaukee County residents have not been able to apply for Section 8 rent assistance vouchers for the last fifteen years. However, as a result of changes in the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services Housing Division, the city now is accepting applications for the first time since 2001.  The application deadline is the end of the day today.

Phil Bernhagen

Turn on the TV just about any time of day, and you’ll likely to find a TV show about people doing home improvement projects. Many of them are trying to increase a home's resale value, and some of them are known as "house flippers," people who buy a home at a low price with the intent to turn a large profit on the property.

While it might seem like local home remodeling team John Kannenberg and Dave Jacob might fall into that latter camp, they believe their work in Milwaukee's North Shore is worlds away from "flipping." 

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