Former Phillis Wheatley School to become new affordable housing option in Milwaukee

NOW: Former Phillis Wheatley School to become new affordable housing option in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- A project that will provide more affordable housing options on Milwaukee's north side is almost complete. The former Phillis Wheatley Elementary School is being redeveloped to help meet the needs of dozens of families in the city.

It's a $22 million project. Leaders gathered Thursday to highlight the progress that's been made so far. "Stable and affordable housing is important for individuals and it's also important for families," said Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

This redevelopment project is financed in part with low income housing tax credits and $400,000 in funds from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.

"Rents are increasing and wages have remained stagnant. There's a shortage of housing units all contributing to Milwaukee having to navigate a challenging affordable housing crisis," Diane M. Shelley, HUD Midwest Regional Administrator.

When it is complete, the former school will hold 82 units. It will be complete by mid-July but they're already leasing, and the developer says people will start moving in by the end of this month.

"We're keen on being urban developers. Our founder and CEO, Kevin Newell actually attended this school. Phillis Wheatley school," said Terrell Walter, Development Manager for Royal Capital.

Walter says his team noticed the former Wheatley school had been vacant and underutilized for years.

"We saw it as an opportunity to not only invest in 53206 but reutilize an asset that was core to so many children that lived in this neighborhood," said Walter.

Through partnerships, the goal is to make the building a special part of the community. "We're also going to have amenities that include a world class fitness center open not only to our residents but neighbors that live nearby. We're going to bring in a juice bar for the greater community, and we're going to have an open demonstration kitchen open for all as well," said Walter.

There are other projects in the works across Milwaukee with similar goals, focusing on affordable housing options and promoting accessible homeownership for all people.

"Providing a foundation of housing is one of the main sources of determinants of health and we continue to increase our investments in housing at the county level," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

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