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Take Root Milwaukee | Community Stories Summer 2012


A new program here is bringing dozens of local organizations together to work towards a common goal: preserving and promoting homeownership in Milwaukee. It’s called Take Root Milwaukee and they’re working to encourage first time home buyers and help current owners in danger of foreclosure.

It’s a way of dealing with the foreclosure crisis on two levels. One one side, they educate prospective home buyers on the purchasing process and provide trusted resources. They also help buyers through the rehab process if they want to purchase a foreclosed property. On the other they provide struggling homeowners with counseling and help curb the amount of homes that end up in foreclosure.

I spoke with Kristi Luzar from the Urban Economic Development Association (UEDA) and Irma Yepez Klassen from Select Milwaukee about how the program works.

Kristi says, “We think of Take Root Milwaukee as a real flexible way to talk about the city. The idea is that over the long term, as the market changes and the situation changes that the members will be there and will be able to … continue to promote sustainable homeownership in this community.”

Take Root Milwaukee includes over 35 members including nonprofits, lenders realtors and other community partners. Through Take Root, these organizations have helped thousands of Milwaukeeans over the last couple years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Irma from Select Milwaukee says collaboration is key to the whole program, “We try to work closely together because we realize that we might not be able to offer a certain service but we certainly work to connect them. So if we know somebody’s interested in buying in a certain neighborhood like Layton Blvd West area, we might connect them with the outreach person there, somebody that can walk them through the amenities that neighborhood has to offer.”

Later that day I went to a 1st Time Home buying workshop with Shirley Lowery at the Career Youth Development Center to get a feel of what some of the programming looks like.

Shirley walks prospective homebuyers through the process starting with the basics like starting a budget, building credit and knowing what to look for in a lender and realtor. She says the workshops are free and open to the public - there’s no age or income requirements. But what if somebody still needs help even after the workshop?

“I actually work with the client until they’re in a home. I help them with their budget, credit, savings; everything until they’re actually in a property.”

Sometimes that can take months or even years, but Shirley and Take Root will be there to help Milwaukeeans plant their roots in a home of their own.

Check out the links for more information on Take Root Milwaukee and listen to the two audio versions of the stories to hear from the experts themselves.