Mayor Barrett looks to allocate more funds to foreclosure problem

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- This week, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will introduce his budget, in which he is allocating a lot more money to solve the city's foreclosure problem.

Mayor Barrett is set to propose an increase nearly two times what is already being spent on the foreclosure problem in the city. He says now is the time to really focus on this issue as it has grown by more than 10 times what it was in 2007.

"This is the time now to really put our foot on the accelerator and make sure we're going whatever we can to alleviate the problem," Mayor Barrett said.

The problem Mayor Barrett is referring to is the increasing amount of foreclosed homes the city now has.

"Back in 2007 we obtained maybe 79 properties. Right now our inventory is over a thousand," Mayor Barrett said.

According to Mayor Barrett, many of these homes are concentrated in the central city, primarily on the north side.

After spending just over $4 million last year on foreclosures, Mayor Barrett is set to propose an increase of over $7.5 million in his new budget.

"Some of it's going to be from the tax levy. We are readjusting our priorities. Some is going to be coming through some borrowing. Some is through management, different management of how we're dealing with our resources," Mayor Barrett said.

That means every department in the city will be affected, with one exception.

"It's not going to come from our police department because I've already announced that we're going to be hiring 100 additional police officers," Mayor Barrett said.

Mayor Barrett is also hoping to create partnerships with other levels of government.

"We've had some encouraging talks with the state," Mayor Barrett said.

While the foreclosures from financial institutions seem to have slowed dramatically, city foreclosures are still rising.

"What we are seeing right now is we are seeing properties that stopped paying taxes in 2009, 2010, 2011. And it's only because two to three years have now lapsed that the city steps in," Mayor Barrett said.

By putting more resources towards the problem, Mayor Barrett says he feels the ultimate goal is attainable.

"This is all about putting homeowners back into these homes because once you have homeowners in these homes, then they start paying the taxes," Mayor Barrett said.

Mayor Barrett says that along with trying to partner with the state, he hopes to get financial institutions involved because they too have an interest in stabilizing neighborhoods where they have loans.

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