Workers, community celebrate rehabbed northside home

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- Community and religious leaders showed off their finished work Saturday on a home that was once boarded up and an eyesore.

"This is exactly, exactly what the city wants to do in neighborhoods just like this," Mayor Tom Barrett said.

The 83rd Street home is one of more than 1,000 properties Milwaukee owns due to foreclosure.  Mayor Barrett budgeted nearly $12 million to fight what he calls a 'major crisis'.

"We need more groups to step up and in a very pragmatic, practical, workable sense, help us take these  properties and make them homes once again," Barrett said.

"We're not ready to just lay down and let the community die," Ezekiel Community Development board member Jim Gaillard said.

Ezekiel is the group that fixed the house just east of Timmerman Airport.  Gaillard helped with electrical upgrades and coordinated with the  five minority contractors who did the work.

"It gives us the chance to do something in the community where people that look like us get to see people  that look like them doing some important things," Gaillard said.

Ezekiel bought the property from Milwaukee in October for a discounted price.  The $40 thousand project included new siding, paint, woodwork, and a made over kitchen and bathroom.

"Those green boards out there weren't a pretty sight," contractor Rickey Nelson said.  "If you look at it now, it goes back into the community, makes it look nice from the outside."

Backed by MICAH: The Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope, Ezekiel hopes to buy another ten  homes from the city.  They think the jobs they provide to minority workers will turn  neighborhoods around.

"There are going to be people that say, 'This is impossible,'" Reverend and president of MICAH Willie Brisco said.  "We're going to say 'Join us and make it  possible.'  Because we can't do it alone."

You can find a link to MICAH's website under news links at the top of this page.

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