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HACM Annual Meeting Shows HOUSING IS the Foundation for a Better Life

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On July 11, 2018, the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM) welcomed over 200 people to its annual meeting where it emphasized that HOUSING IS the platform from which to build a better quality of life and to foster strong, resilient communities. Highlighted at the event was HACM’s unwavering commitment to provide safe, affordable, high-quality housing options and support services through its programs and partnerships.

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“It is a celebration for all the great work that you are doing and I thank you on behalf of the residents of this city,” said Mayor Tom Barrett about the meeting.

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This year's resident guest speaker, Latisha Fowler, shared the transformative impact the Housing Authority has had on her life by providing affordable housing and support services such as the @Promise Resident Training Program. The program is designed for individuals who demonstrate the potential to achieve self-sufficiency if treated with promise. It provides training, financial assistance for higher education, and employment. “It’s important that I am able to raise my children and guide them because I am not working hours on end to afford unaffordable housing,” said Fowler about the Housing Authority’s positive effect on her family’s quality of life.

The event took place on the grounds of HACM’s Convent Hill senior housing development because it represents HACM’s past and current commitments to affordable housing, and its aspirations for the future. For 109 years, Convent Hill was home to the School Sisters of Notre Dame and a massive convent that encompassed an entire city block. In the 1959, the Sisters moved to another location, and soon after, public housing – called Convent Hill replaced the aging convent buildings. The land took on a new look, but the mission to serve those most in need continued. Today, this tradition continues with the new Convent Hill senior apartments that opened in 2009 and provide 120 affordable, modern, and highly sustainable apartments for seniors.

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This year marked the 50th anniversary of what is now referred to as the “Fair Housing Marches” in Milwaukee, which lasted for 200 consecutive nights of nonviolent protest on the part of the marchers. Five days after the 200 nights ended, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Six days after the assassination of Dr. King, on April 11, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson finally signed the federal Fair Housing Act, providing equal housing opportunities regardless of race, religion, or national origin.

At the event, HACM honored Vel Phillips in memoriam for her tireless commitment to open and fair housing in Milwaukee. Phillips’ goddaughter, Mildred Coby, was present to accept the award in her memory. Phillips may have left us physically earlier this year, but her spirit and legacy will live on forever.   

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HACM also recognized several partners for helping the agency achieve its mission to foster strong, resilient, and inclusive communities. Each honoree received a commemorative Mova Globe sculpture signifying the care they have provided for their community. Honorees included:

  • Milwaukee Area Technical College
  • Marquette University’s Trinity Fellow Program
  • Alderman Robert Bauman
  • State Senator Dale Kooyenga, 14th District
  • State Senator Evan Goyke, 18th District
  • Karen Dettmer, City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works
  • Dave Misky, City of Milwaukee Redevelopment Authority
  • Vanessa Koster, City of Milwaukee Department of City Development
  • John Heinen, Retired City of Milwaukee Assistant City Attorney
  • Pat Curley, Retired Chief of Staff for Mayor Tom Barrett
  • Beverly Carter, Retired Management Specialist, US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development
  • Lena Mitchell, Retiring HACM Board of Commissioners

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Another highlight of the event was the presence of the Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum’s new Fair Housing March exhibit. The organization’s founder and director, Clayborn Benson III, was on-site to provide attendees with further insight into that time in our city’s history. The exhibit is now on display at the museum.

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Following HACM’s annual meeting, guests were invited to join a rededication ceremony for a pair of chapel bells from the convent. The Bells of Milwaukee, an organization dedicated to the preservation of Milwaukee’s historic bells, hosted the ceremony. Thanks to the Bells of Milwaukee’s efforts and the financial support from the Argosy Foundation, Milwaukee Arts Board, Herbert H. Kohl Charities, Jan Serr, and John Shannon the bells can once again ring as symbols of hope and opportunity.

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