MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity broke ground on an ambitious initiative to build 100 homes in Milwaukee's Midtown neighborhood. Currently, 60 percent of Milwaukee renters are living in unaffordable housing -- something Habitat wants to change.
Right now, it's a vacant lot, but soon, it will look like the properties down the street -- taken over by construction crews and volunteers.
"It's going to be a safer place to live, and ultimately, that's our vision -- to see a neighborhood revitalized," said Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Brian Sonderman.
Over the next three years, Midtown will transform into a more populated community.
"You come into an area, we rebuild the area. You see people owning homes. You see crime rates going down," said Gerry Logemann, Habitat volunteer.
They broke ground Wednesday, March 21, to set Midtown 100 in motion. The project entails 20 repairs -- helping existing residents stay in their homes, 15 home rehabs and new construction of 65 homes. It's making history as the highest concentration of affordable single-family homes built in the city since World War II.
"It's a huge undertaking, a lot of people involved," said Logemann.
Homeowners will be getting their hands dirty too.
"When you've put that amount of time into building your own home, you're going to care for it. You're going to protect it. You're going to continue to be a change agent in your neighborhood," Sonderman said.
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The project is combating the affordable housing crisis by building the foundation for a better life.
"For anybody who lives in one of these homes, it means dignity. It means respect," Mayor Barrett said.
"It will also mean being able to put their roots into this neighborhood for generations to come," said Sonderman.
The project is slated for completion sometime in 2020. Meantime, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity still needs to secure an additional $6.8 million to fund the project.