HUD Awards $1.3 Million Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant for Near West Side
On September 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $1.3 million to Marquette University and Near West Side Partners (NWSP) to create comprehensive, homegrown plans to revitalize HUD-assisted College Court and transform the Near West Side community in Milwaukee.
HUD held a press conference at Harley-Davidson’s headquarters to announce the funding award. Matt Levatich, CEO of Harley-Davidson, welcomed guests and thanked the partners for coming together to “amplify the opportunities for people to live, work, and play in the Near West Side.”
“We come together to celebrate the possibility of transformation, a renewed sense of hope, and a full era of promise and opportunity in this Near West Side community,” said HUD Midwest Regional Administrator, Joseph Galvan. We are making an investment in this community because of your commitment, your dedication and leadership, and because the City of Milwaukee has an incredible track record of delivering results.”
NWSP and Marquette University will work with the other Near West Side anchor institutions - Advocate Aurora Health, Harley-Davidson, MillerCoors, Potawatomi Business Development Corporation - along with other key partners, including Business Improvement District #10, City of Milwaukee, Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, LISC, Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, Marquette Democracy Lab, Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee Public Schools, and Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership / BIG STEP.
“I believe we have the premier public-private partnership in the nation with the Near West Side Partners and our government institutions,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “This is a very important neighborhood because it has all the elements. It has industry. It has manufacturing. It has healthcare. Obviously, it has entertainment, and you have people from all backgrounds, from all races, from all income here on the Near West Side.”
The Marquette University and the Near West Side Partners award is one of only three grantees that received an additional $950,000 for “Action Activities” within their award. This additional funding may be used to build momentum and attract additional investment. Eligible uses include recycling vacant property into community gardens, pocket parks, or farmers markets; beautification, place-making and community arts projects; homeowner and business façade improvement programs; neighborhood broadband or Wi-Fi; fresh food initiatives; and gap financing for economic development projects.
Dr. Michael Lovell, President of Marquette University, praised the fellow anchor institutions and other key partners for working together to make a difference and being able to attract new investments like the Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant.
The unique collaboration between Marquette University, NWSP, and residents has led to a variety of plans for improving the Near West Side. These plans have resulted in several transformational changes in the community, including the opening of two grocery stores and 18 businesses, improved neighborhood lighting, closure of a problematic tobacco shop, and most importantly a stronger, more authentic relationship between residents, businesses, and other stakeholders. To build upon this momentum, Marquette University and NWSP will use the $1,300,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning and Action Grant to develop a comprehensive Transformation Plan that encompasses past plans with an eye towards improving housing opportunities for residents. Particularly, the team will create a roadmap to revitalize the distressed, 248-unit College Court public housing development and increase investment in the surrounding neighborhood. Marquette University and NWSP will work with residents and stakeholders to develop consensus on desired outcomes and create a shared, comprehensive vision for the Near West Side.
Keith Stanley of Near West Side Partners said, “This planning grant will enable us to continue to work to improve our housing opportunities for our residents, an effort that is at the core of the Near West Side Partners’ mission. Secondly, we will ensure that our residents have a voice and we believe that our residents need to be at the table as they decide what is next for their community. The resources will allow for the necessary planning as we move forward. It’s key to making sure that we connect with our community, with other stakeholders so we can plan how those resources will be implemented and most importantly, this grant will enable planning for a one-to-one replacement of HUD public housing, supporting Near West Side Partners and HACM’s mission to ensure that our most economically vulnerable residents, especially our seniors in public housing our not displaced.”
“Those towers (College Court) in the back represent public housing, but there must be in this plan, and I hope so, a continuum of housing that would afford from the 60% area median income to 120% and beyond,” said Tony Pérez, Secretary-Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee. “Let’s take advantage of this platform, not only for this corporate intent that has already been born and make it a reality that the focus or the creation of healthy neighborhoods is on the back of credible, good retail, good schools – not only housing – opportunities for work, to recreate the way that we transport each other from point A to point B.”