Officials Discuss Plans for Abandoned Homes

The City of Milwaukee Department of City Development discussed its plans to remediate vacant and abandoned homes Tuesday morning.

The meeting held by the Committee on the Redevelopment of Abandoned and Foreclosed Homes at City Hall looked at properties around the city that are subject to foreclosure.

This past July, the Department of City Development approved the sale of foreclosed homes to developers.

City officials in attendance also discussed that city’s plan for dispersal of Neighborhood Stabilization Program Funds.

The NSP is an initiative to address rising mortgage foreclosures in the city. These foreclosed homes in these neighborhoods impact the city negatively. The Fund addresses problems in various ways, each helping educate or assist homeowners.

Mayor Tom Barrett launched the Milwaukee Foreclosure Partnership Initiative in 2008.

Milwaukee’s Options

Milwaukee has had neighborhoods that have been going through various stages of gentrification for decades, but with economic problems the city has seen an increase of properties subject to foreclosure.

Alderman Robert Bauman is the alderman for the fourth district in Milwaukee. He prepared documents from the Department of City Development that presented statistics of foreclosures in the city of Milwaukee.

“The total number of properties subject to foreclosure is higher than I expected,” said Alderman Bauman.

Alderman Bauman also suggested that there be an increase to the budget of the Housing Infrastructure Preservation Fund. He believes that the budget of the fund has been used effectively.

The Housing Infrastructure Preservation Fund is a project of Alderman Bauman’s that has the goal of preserving tax base and to avoiding demolishing buildings. The fund was approved by the Common Council in 2009.

A press release from Bauman stated that the fun is a dedicated funding source to pay for restoring and preserving vacant residential properties in the city’s housing inventory primarily because of foreclosure for non-payment of property taxes.

Alderman Bauman also believes that the Housing Infrastructure Preservation Fund has lead to the generation of Emerging Business Enterprise.

EBE works in the city of Milwaukee to assist small business concerns and to be able to compete in free markets. The EBE also helps businesses with technical and financial assistance. Not all businesses can use the EBE because they are too small to be qualified for the program.

The city addresses the problem of foreclosure through prevention, intervention and stabilization efforts. The Special Joint Committee on the Redevelopment of Abandoned and Foreclosed Homes works to guide the use of federal funding to address foreclosed homes in city neighborhoods.

Maria Prioletta works for the city’s Department of City Development.

“The EBE program deals with a lot of contractors that have a larger capacity and that work on larger projects,” said Prioletta.

Open foreclosure filings in the city are seeing a relative decrease compared to the third quarter. Filings have gone down 15%.

Prioletta said that the studies need to be examined over the course of more than a year to see the actual trend.

Milwaukee’s Own

Milwaukee has been working to build stronger neighborhoods around the city. Many of these neighborhoods have been negatively affected by foreclosures.

Many tenants have difficulties making rent.

Clifton Crump is a project manager for the Department of City Development. Crump said that the number evictions in the city have increased by ten-fold. Last year the city was 70,000 short on the rent collected throughout the year.

Many of the tenants that are renting properties are often encouraged to purchase the properties that they are renting. This can be achieved when the tenants achieve good enough credit.

The city is often resistant to evicting tenants that are making late payments.

“Last year the City took control of 494 properties and will take in 522 properties if the redemption rate continues to be around 50 percent for the next two InRem lists,” said Crump.

InRem is the Institute of Real Estate Management in Milwaukee.

This past July, the Department of City Development approved the sale of foreclosed homes to developers. According to Crump, this is the first year that there has been a significant number of properties sold.