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Date
May 8, 2024

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley‘s administration plans to provide financing for a new affordable housing development in the city of Franklin.

The plan is to direct $2.5 million from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation toward the development of 12 affordable housing units in a 50-unit apartment building at 7521 S. 31st St., which will be designed to provide supportive housing for people with disabilities.

The $37 million project is being developed by Communities of Crocus (COC), a nonprofit with a mission to develop more supportive housing options for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The county funding will support the first phase of construction, creating the 12 affordable units.

“This affordable housing development will be the first of its kind in the City of Franklin to support persons with disabilities,” Crowley said in a statement. “Together, we will continue battling the root causes of housing instability and unaffordability through innovative public-private partnerships, so we can create a healthier and safer community for all.”

Funding for the project comes from a previously approved affordable project that is no longer moving forward. In early 2023, the county committed $2.5 million to an affordable housing project in Wauwatosa being developed by Luther Group. Those funds are being reallocated to the Franklin project.

“This is such an incredible gift for COC and our vision of creating a supportive housing community for adults with autism and similar intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said COC co-founder Amy Hansel in a statement. “But it’s also a shining light for the many families who struggle with the challenge of taking care of their adult children who are either unable to live on their own, or simply cannot due to the lack of adequate, affordable and safe housing.”

Hansel founded COC with Emily Peters. Both women have children with autism or Down Syndrome. They created the organization because of the dearth of housing options for people with disabilities.

“What makes COC unique is that the community will serve individuals with higher needs who may need one-on-one support and up to 24/7 care, but want an option to have their own place as well,” Hansel told Urban Milwaukee. “We will provide onsite services and supports to help them navigate their new living arrangement and be as independent as possible.

The Franklin development is COC’s first project.

“Housing is a necessity and we are hoping people take notice and support this cause and others like it,” Hansel said. “These individuals as they transition to adulthood deserve a place they can call their own and their parents should be able to experience seeing this come to fruition while they are still alive.”

The local supervisor on the County Board, Steve Taylor, is backing the project.

“Affordable housing in Milwaukee County continues to be a challenge, especially in some of the southern suburban municipalities,” Taylor said in a statement. “Bringing this development to Franklin is overdue and continues to show the County Board’s historic investment in our community.”

Crowley has made affordable housing a major policy priority during his tenure as county executive, directing millions towards projects around the county, and pursuing affordable housing in the suburbs. The policy is designed to give people on limited incomes more options when it comes to what communities they live in and what schools they send their children to.

The administration has, in particular, made great use of federal ARPA funding, which is being used for an unprecedented homeownership project, building 100 new homes in the King Park neighborhood.

“To create a healthy community, we need to ensure that residents have access to affordable housing,” said Shakita LaGrant-McClain, director of the Department of Health and Human Services. “By investing in housing, we are investing in community health.”

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