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Milwaukee aldermen talk about home described as “a haven” for lewd activity

MILWAUKEE -- A haven for prostitution and drug dealing. That is how city officials describe a house on Milwaukee's near south side. But that could change now that a lawsuit has been filed.

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan

It's the second lawsuit filed this summer under Milwaukee's "bawdy house" ordinance. It's part of an attempted crackdown on prostitution by some city officials.

Standing outside a home near 32nd and Greenfield on Wednesday afternoon, August 23rd, Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan and Alderman Jose Perez wanted to send a message.

"Landlords, be aware of what's going on at your property and don't tolerate any illegal activity," said Alderman Donovan.

Donovan's comments are in response to a lawsuit filed by the City of Milwaukee against a property owner. The lawsuit says 3200 W. Greenfield is a "public nuisance," the building has been used for prostitution and drug dealing, and landlord Gregory Jones knew it.

"This has been going on for many years," said Betty Grinker, a neighbor. "It's gone on far too long. I mean, this is just the start. There's houses all over like this."

A FOX6 investigation in July revealed the extent of the prostitution problem on Milwaukee's south side, especially along Greenfield Avenue. Soon after, Ald. Donovan launched an initiative dubbed "Operation Dear John" which aims to use private security to monitor and identify those participating in prostitution.

"Without you, we do not have any success. Our hope is you," said Alderman Perez.

Milwaukee Alderman Jose Perez

Ald. Perez said the city relies on tips from vigilant neighbors to identify and shut down nuisance properties.

"Let's work together to keep our neighborhoods safe for our kids to play in and for our businesses to succeed and that our residents can sleep at night," Perez said.

If successful, the city's lawsuit will assign a receiver to the property who will begin appropriate management. Officials say both lawsuits against landlords filed this summer began with citizen complaints.