Home Foreclosure Market-priced project aims to attract residents to Walnut Circle and Josey Heights neighborhoods

Market-priced project aims to attract residents to Walnut Circle and Josey Heights neighborhoods


Brenda Brown helps people build homes in her neighborhood. “Even if you can’t achieve your dream right now, you may be more prepared to buy your first home than you think,” she says. (Photo by PrincessSafiya Byers)

Brenda Brown and her husband, Henry, live in the only house in North 20and and West Walnut Streets for over 13 years.

After building their home in 2008, they expected more homes to follow. But the economy collapsed and new neighbors never came.

Now, Brenda Brown is part of efforts to bring people back to Walnut Circle and Josey Heights neighborhoods near downtown.

As a lender for Great Midwest Bank, Brown personally helps people prepare and begin building homes in both neighborhoods across the the city’s new homes initiative.

The market rate project is an attempt to build new homes on vacant land at 20and and Walnut and on North 12th and West Lloyd streets. The city partnered with the Emem Group, which created new home design options exclusively for these developments.

The city of Milwaukee sells 20 empty lots to qualified families for $1 and gives them a repayable $30,000 grant to build if they live in the new homes for at least seven years.

To qualify, homebuilders must earn a combined annual income of $80,000 to $90,000 per year and have a credit score of at least 620.

“It may seem expensive because it is,” Brown said. “This initiative builds dream homes.”

Brown said there were six homes under construction for the spring.

The power of perseverance

The program took years to prepare for Heidi Moore, who recently moved into her new home in Josey Heights.

Moore has been trying to make construction in Josey Heights a reality since 2014, when city of Milwaukee officials came to a parent meeting at his children’s school, the Lloyd Street campus of Milwaukee College Prep, to discuss the potential for new developments in the region.

This plan failed, but Moore persisted over the years. She contacted different organizations and banks and attended many meetings, sharing her story with people all over the city.

She said it wasn’t until she met Michael Emem, the chairman and CEO of Emem Group, that the Josey Heights building came within reach.

Moore said Emem kept her updated on what was going on.

“It was a difficult process,” she said. “But I’m glad everyone came together to make this happen.”

Kelly Carter, 50, is one of the first people to take advantage of the initiative and is currently building her dream home.

A native of Milwaukee and a nurse in the inner city, Carter felt it was important to build in Josey Heights, located at North 12th and West Lloyd streets.

“I can’t easily make money from people who live here who don’t also live here,” Carter said. “Milwaukee has only been good to me.”

She said that despite some challenges, the process was worth it.

“I don’t make a lot of money, and it wouldn’t have been affordable for me without this deal,” Carter said. “I have an 11 year old daughter and I wanted to show her everything possible.”

Brown said she was concerned about rising property taxes, but as president of the Johnson Park Neighborhood AssociationBrowns tracks available resources.

“I know most of my neighbors, and most of them have lived here for over 20 years,” Brown said. “I am ready to work and support my neighbours, so there is no displacement.”

She said she hopes the project will create a stronger neighborhood and community.

Brown said home ownership brings wealth and she wants to help others achieve their dreams.

“Even if you can’t achieve your dream right now, you may be more prepared to buy your first home than you think,” Brown said.

For more information and other resources for owners

To contact Brown, you can call 414-352-8713 or email [email protected].

Social Development Commission can help with lead, weatherization and other housing related issues. You can call 414-906-2700.

Fair Housing Council of the Milwaukee Metro Area can help homeowners protect themselves against mortgage and foreclosure prevention scams as well as predatory home lending. You can call 414-278-1240.

Housing Resources Inc. can provide advice to homeowners and has programs to help people prevent foreclosure. You can call 414-461-6330.

ACTS Housing offers realtor advice and representation to help low-income families make the transition from renting to buying a home. You can dial (414) 933-2215.

City of Milwaukee Housing Authority: The Housing Authority’s Section 32 program offers advice throughout the home buying process and sells rehabilitated homes to low-income residents. The agency offers grants and grants for down payment assistance and reimbursable second mortgages for current HACM owners. You can dial (414) 286-5405.

Bronzeville Resident Homeownership Initiative: The Bronzeville Homebuyer Assistance Program provides forgivable loans of up to $25,000 and technical assistance to meet the home improvement needs of residents who purchase city-owned foreclosed homes in the Bronzeville area. the Bronzeville Initiative.. You can dial (414) 286-5608.

Common Ground – Milwaukee Rising:

Milwaukee Rising rehabilitates and sells foreclosed properties in the Sherman Park neighborhood. Matching grants of up to $5,000 are available for homeowners to complete repairs and upgrades. Contact Bob Connolly at [email protected] for more information. You can dial (414) 751-0755

Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authorityor WHEDA, offer resources for homebuyers. You can call 608-266-7884.