Like many U.S. cities, Milwaukee is dealing with an affordable housing crisis, with many residents often spending 50 to 80 percent of their income on rent or mortgage payments and homeownership rates dropping by nearly 14% over the last decade. Black residents in Milwaukee are especially strained, with 40% of Black renters spending more than half of their incomes on rent and homeownership rates in Black neighborhoods decreasing by up to 28%. These already acute housing struggles have been made worse by the simultaneous health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The connection between housing stability and health outcomes has never been more evident than during the Covid-19 crisis. The City remains dedicated to creating or improving 10,000 units of affordable housing units over the next ten years. This includes scaling the Strong Neighborhoods Plan, investing in the Westlawn Choice Neighborhood initiative, closely monitoring mortgage delinquency and foreclosure data to stay ahead of another great loss in homeownership, and budgeting for $6.5M in 2021 to be allocated for a variety of housing and homeownership programs.

To support these efforts, Milwaukee’s Department of City Development will partner with FUSE Executive Fellow Cordella Jones for one year to create or improve 10,000 units of affordable housing throughout the city, focusing on increasing Black homeownership to maintain housing resilience in the face of future economic downturns. Cordella will engage with communities to assess their needs and detail processes for scaling and piloting innovative alternative affordable housing models, helping the city combat its affordable housing crisis.