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City of Milwaukee housing transformed for the arts available with city support

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Right now the City of Milwaukee has roughly one thousand properties they own and are hoping to sell, and city leaders want you to buy one for just a dollar.

The ARCH, or Artist and Resource Collaborative Hub Program, was created in 2017. The city’s ARCH Program has already transformed a once-vacant 9,000 square foot building on Milwaukee’s north side into a beautiful art gallery for the community to enjoy.

“It allows a person to be able to purchase a city property for one dollar and they can get a forgivable loan of up to $25,000 to rehab that property,” said Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, who represents Milwaukee’s 6th District.

City leaders say not many know about it, so on Wednesday they held their first-ever public informational meeting. 

“This was a way to cast a wider net so more people would be aware,” adds Alderwoman Coggs.

Artist Fatima Laster first heard about the program two years ago and decided to get in on it. She set her eyes on a city-owned building in her childhood neighborhood, and turned it into 5 Points Art Gallery and Studios.

”It’s a good, creative way to try to rid the city of its blight,” said Laster.

The dollar properties have to be used for artistic or resource purposes.

“If we can bring those things to a community and also get rid of some foreclosed homes and some boards off of properties, then we’ve accomplished some great things,” said Alderwoman Coggs.

Laster has rehabbed an old vacant funeral home built in the 1920’s and made it into an art gallery with two exhibition spaces, nine artist work studios and two artist apartments.  She’s now one of two people who have successfully used the ARCH Program.

“It’s a good way to help them start to build equity within themselves and create it for their families,” adds Laster. “Also find a stable way to support their practice.”

“We hope that people will see this example and that it can get funded into the future,” says Alderwoman Coggs.

Alderwoman Coggs says there is no deadline for the application, but due to limited funding it is first come first serve.

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