Acts Housing Helps Low-Income Families Restore Abandoned Homes and Reclaim Neighborhoods

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This story is taken from Milwaukee Magazine‘s 2019 Charitable Giving Guide. We found 20 deserving nonprofits for you to consider supporting this holiday season. 

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Hector Rodriguez, A widower with two children, put in hundreds of hours of sweat equity to rehab his Near West Side home. The tax-foreclosed dwelling, purchased for $3,500, had been vacant for six years. The $30,000 worth of repairs included HVAC, mold abatement, a new front porch, grading land, rerouting gutters and concrete repair.

“My kids love it here,” he says, “We know our neighbors. We feel safe. And we don’t have to worry about moving again.”

Since 1995, Acts Housing has helped more than 2,300 low-income families become homeowners by providing homebuyer counseling, real estate services, home rehab counseling and loans and grants for repair of foreclosed or abandoned homes.

The goal is to get people who are trapped in bad rental situations, or people who would otherwise be denied financing, to become homeowners. Thanks to Acts’ work, blighted properties are being restored and neighborhoods reclaimed.

Acts’ entrepreneurial model is unique, says Michael Gosman, executive director.

“It’s the only program in the country that puts the family in the driver’s seat,” he says. “We just coach them through the process. It’s a self-empowerment model.”

The success rate of families who buy and stay in their homes long term is 94 percent. Better yet, these families save $100 to $300 a month compared with what they previously paid in rent – money that can be used for education, medical care or business ventures.

“I hope what my kids learned from this is that if you really go after something and keep at it, you will get the results you’re looking for,” says Rodriguez.

This Story is part of the December issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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