In one century-old community, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity and Wells Fargo are restoring homes and the local pool.

Returning a neighborhood to its place in the sun

In a century-old community, decaying houses and the local pool are springing back to life with help from Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity and Wells Fargo.

August 11, 2016

“What I love about being a homeowner is that I get to make my own choices as far as what I want to do with my home. It’s a launching pad for other things that I would like to do in the community.”

That’s Celeste’s take on homeownership in Milwaukee’s historic Washington Park community, where she lives with her 3-year-old son, Josiah (pictured above at pool).

The neighborhood was founded in the 1890s by German immigrants and grew along with many nearby industries. But the homes and neighborhood began to deteriorate in the 1970s, when many of the area’s jobs disappeared.

Today the community is experiencing a comeback, thanks in part to the efforts of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, which is rebuilding many of the neighborhood’s century-old homes. A $215,000 Wells Fargo Housing Foundation grant is also supporting that effort, as well as going toward restoration of the neighborhood pool.

“When I look around Washington Park today, the lesson is that you don’t have to move to live in a better neighborhood,” says Milwaukee historian John Gurda. “A lot of energy has really brought the park back to life, and you see the same kind of life in the surrounding neighborhoods.”

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