By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 28, 2018 at 8:03 AM

Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity broke ground last week on a project to build, rehab and repair 100 homes over three years in the city’s Midtown neighborhood.

The $10.3 million Midtown 100 plan will build 65 new homes on vacant lots in the neighborhood between North 21st and North 30th Street, from Lisbon to North Avenue, rehab 15 more there and make critical repairs on another 20 in the area.

The plan was unveiled last July, but more details were announced as Habitat says it needs to raise $6.8 million from corporations, organizations and individuals to make Midtown 100 a reality.

"Midtown 100 combats our city’s affordable housing crisis by building the highest concentration of affordable single-family homes in Milwaukee since WWII," said Milwaukee Ald. Russell Stamper, in whose district the Midtown neighborhood is located.

"Milwaukee Habitat will utilize its innovative partnerships with community-focused organizations to dramatically increase homeownership opportunities while helping current residents stay in their homes. I want to thank Habitat its partners for this incredibly valuable initiative in my district."

The plan would serve the most families in the city since Habitat began work here in 1984.

According to a statement from Stamper’s office, the nearby Washington Park neighborhood has seen a 48 percent decrease in violent crime and a 20 percent increase in "residents who say they feel like they are part of the neighborhood since 2013, when Habitat began building new homes and repairing existing ones in that area via its Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.

"Our goal is to build on the successes of what we have done in Washington Park," Brian Sonderman, executive director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, told Neighborhood News Service in July.

"Midtown 100 combats our city’s affordable housing crisis by more than doubling the number of families Habitat serves each year," Habitat said in a statement released more recently.

"Through groundbreaking partnerships with community-focused organizations, we will dramatically increase homeownership opportunities while helping current residents stay in their homes."

Habitat also plans to extend its reach into the Harambee neighborhood and expects to invest up to $20 million in that area beginning in 2021.

Habitat helps low income families that earn from 25 to 60 percent of Milwaukee County’s average income, become homeowners. Homeowners will work alongside construction crews to build, renovate or repair their future homes.

"When you've invested that many hours of sweat equity, you've made a commitment, which leads to the homeowners staying in their homes long term," Sonderman told NNS.

If you would like to donate to Midtown 100, click here.

If you’re interested in becoming a homeowner as part of the plan, click here.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.