Milwaukee Christian Center stabilizes neighborhoods one home at a time

One home at a time – that might as well be the motto for the Milwaukee Christian Center’s (MCC) Housing Production program. Over the last dozen years, they’ve built or rehabbed about 50 single-family homes sold to buyers making 80 percent of the area median income.

“This isn’t just about individual houses; it’s about a whole neighborhood,” said John Kaye, Director of Housing Production for MCC. “Yes, our basic goal is to provide high-quality, affordable housing. But it’s important to remember that we’re also removing distressed – usually foreclosed – properties, and that has a stabilizing effect on entire neighborhoods.”

The cost to purchase property in the area is relatively low, but MCC requires financing for construction costs. That’s where IFF comes in – our $300,000 line-of-credit approved in March 2016 has enabled MCC to work on three new homes.

The first IFF-financed house, pictured above, was a new construction project developed through MCC’s Youth Build program, which provides paid job training alongside GED classes for 18-25-year-olds. “When it was done, that house sold so fast, we didn’t even have time to file the sales sheet,” Kaye said.

MCC serves as the general contractor for these housing projects, working with both professional sub-contractors as well as the Youth Build program and students at a local technical college.

“These students are very motivated,” Kaye said. “We provide the house (or vacant lot), manage the project and subcontractors, and pay for the materials, and the students provide a lot of the labor. We’ve been working for them for 9 years, and they do great work.”

Two other MCC housing projects undertaken with IFF financing are currently underway. Both are major rehabs of formerly foreclosed properties owned by the city, and both are duplexes that will be transformed into more-marketable single-family homes. One will be on the market very soon.

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