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Economy

Can Milwaukee Really Create 10,000 Affordable Homes?

The city has an ambitious plan to fix its housing woes. But so far, most of development has been focused on the city’s downtown area.
A vacant home on Milwaukee's north side. While the city has seen a surge in downtown development, many neighborhoods are still struggling with vacancies and disinvestment.
A vacant home on Milwaukee's north side. While the city has seen a surge in downtown development, many neighborhoods are still struggling with vacancies and disinvestment.Google Maps

Barbara Smith, President of Milwaukee’s Amani United Neighborhood Association, stands in front of her north side house and points to a neglected two-family across the street, one of three abandoned properties adjacent to her house. The shingles of its upper floors are missing and ribbons of yellow siding curl away from the sides, exposing the boards underneath. Small holes line the outside wall, used by animals to get in and out. “I call that the critter house,” Smith says.

The critter house has been like this for a while: The record of complaints about this property goes back 20 years.