MERI Program Succeeds in Job Creation and Residential Rehab
The Milwaukee Renovation/Employment Initiative (MERI), a housing and job-creating program centered in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood, has culminated with the completion of 104 residential properties. That exceeds the original goal of 100 renovated properties. Mayor Tom Barrett, Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld, and other officials will mark the accomplishment Monday at one of the renovated homes.
The MERI program was created in the months following the 2016 Sherman Park civil unrest where a fatal police shooting prompted protests, property damage, and arson. The MERI goals were twofold, to improve both housing and employment opportunities centered in the Sherman Park neighborhood.
“We know strong neighborhoods are supported by quality housing and people who have good jobs. MERI has made the Sherman Park neighborhood stronger, and a stronger Sherman Park is good for the entire City of Milwaukee,” Mayor Tom Barrett said. “MERI achieved the goals we established by creating and improving homes and by generating jobs for Milwaukee workers.”
The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) supported the MERI efforts with $1-million, money that came from a lawsuit settlement with the automaker Volkswagen. DFI allocated an additional $1-million toward demolition of properties that were beyond repair.
Six developers participated in the MERI program, Strong Blocks, Advance Construction, Revive MKE, Jason Scott Realty, Gorman & Co., and Ezekiel Community Development Corp. The overall investment in the 104 properties was $7.9-million.
Unemployed or underemployed Milwaukee residents worked on every renovated MERI property. These certified Residents Preference Program workers logged 33,000 work hours on the properties. The program required a minimum wage of just under $11/hour.
|MERI Program Reaches Housing and Employment Goals|
Date: Monday, July 22nd
Time: 3:15 pm
Location: 3011 North Sherman Blvd. (across from Sherman Park)