HOUSING FOR ALL
In 2012, 6,454 children in Wisconsin were homeless. More than a quarter of those children—1,770 in all—live in Milwaukee.
It’s not easy for a homeless person to find stable housing. For homeless families—now the single fastest-growing segment of the homeless population—it’s nearly impossible. There are simply too few alternatives to single-room occupancy developments. What’s more, the extended economic downturn has meant that families lucky enough to find temporary housing in the first place are staying there longer.
In Milwaukee, as elsewhere across the nation, the result is a backlog of families waiting in emergency shelters—or without any shelter at all.
As researchers began spotting the emerging demographic trend, Heartland Alliance set about devising solutions by collecting more specific population data and identifying project requirements, from unit amenities to quality services to access to neighborhood schools. The first tangible result of that work is Maskani Place, on Milwaukee’s north side.
Rising from what was once a vacant city lot, Maskani Place will offer 37 two-, three-, and four-bedroom units with outdoor play areas and garden plots for growing fresh food, plus a technology center, wellness/fitness center, bike storage room, and multipurpose meeting room with warming kitchen.
Maskani, which means “my home” in Swahili, will also include critical services such as healthcare enrollment assistance, referrals for medical care, and financial literacy classes, to help parents develop the knowledge and skills they need to keep their family headed in the right direction.
“From the development perspective,” says Michael Goldberg, executive director of Heartland Housing, “providing housing for homeless families is complicated and takes time. But from the perspective of working to end homelessness, there is simply no question: it’s the right thing to do.”
WHAT ELSE MATTERED IN 2013
NEW HARVEST: CHICAGO’S LANDMARK VICEROY HOTEL
REBORN AS AFFORDABLE, GREEN HOUSING
On the near West Side, Heartland Alliance welcomed the first of 89 residents to Harvest Commons, a studio apartments complex that offers tenants on-site job readiness training, case management, and mental health and drug abuse counseling along with a social enterprise café and urban farm.
NEW ILLINOIS LAW CREATES PROTECTIONS FOR RENTERS IMPACTED BY FORECLOSURES
Heartland Alliance, partnered with other housing advocates to draft and negotiate passage of SB56, which provides crucial protections for renters at foreclosure. Unless the new owner of a foreclosed property plans to occupy the property as a primary residence, existing tenants may continue living in their homes until their lease expire and must receive at least a 90-day notice to vacate.
VETERAN HOMELESSNESS DOWN 24 PERCENT SINCE 2010
With a grant from the VA, Heartland Alliance is providing supportive housing to veteran families, who are 10 times more likely to experience homelessness than nonveteran families.