housing

Brian Tomaino / Courtesy of Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee

Throughout the month of May, neighborhoods around the country are hostings events called “Jane’s Walks.” The walks honor the work of the late Jane Jacobs, an advocate for the needs of everyday people in urban planning. The walks are citizen-led and are aimed at spurring conversations about the neighborhoods and the people who live in them.

JERAMEY JANNENE / FLICKR

Rental assistance recipients could soon be considered a protected class in Milwaukee County. A new proposal relating to fair housing would ban landlords from refusing to rent to people in housing assistance programs. 

The plan is expected to go before a county board committee later this month.

Current federal law does not require landlords to accept housing choice vouchers, therefore they can legally refuse to rent to voucher holders.

Marti Mikkelson

Community leaders are hoping a $10,000 grant will help Milwaukee get its arms around the ongoing issue of eviction. The money will go toward developing a long-term plan to keep people in their homes. 

Mayor Tom Barrett announced the grant Wednesday from the “Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin” Endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

For many poor families in America, eviction is a real and ongoing threat. Sociologist Matthew Desmond estimates that 2.3 million evictions were filed in the U.S. in 2016 — a rate of four every minute.

"Eviction isn't just a condition of poverty; it's a cause of poverty," Desmond says. "Eviction is a direct cause of homelessness, but it also is a cause of residential instability, school instability [and] community instability."

LaToya Dennis

Every year in Milwaukee, thousands of eviction notices are filed. The state Senate is expected to take up legislation later this month that critics say unfairly favors landlords -- and would increase the number of evictions. Republican proponents maintain it’s about ensuring quality housing for tenants in the most affordable way to landlords.

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.

Pages