For Anthony and Jill Shows, finding a new home for their family of seven also means finding a sense of community. So when Layton Boulevard West Neighbors hosted its third tour of homes in their neighborhood recently, the Shows jumped on the opportunity to learn more about the community.
Twenty families, including the Shows, were briefed on the history of Layton Boulevard West by Will Sebern, community outreach manager for LBWN, and shown a short video montage of current homeowners and business owners in the neighborhood. The families then hopped on and off a bus to get a glimpse of eight move-in ready homes in the Layton Boulevard West Neighborhoods of Silver City, Burnham Park and Layton Park.
The idea behind the tour is to help people find the right home. “We also want to market the neighborhood and all the great things happening in it,” said Sebern.
“We have beautiful homes in a great, diverse neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a community where there’s a lot going on and where there’s a lot of optimism. The goal is to get new homeowners willing to help build the community further.”
To the Shows, diversity itself seemed reason enough for optimism about the neighborhood. “We have five boys under the age of five,” Shows said. “We want our boys to be raised in an area of diversity where they will see things they wouldn’t see elsewhere.”
The tour of homes, sponsored by Housing Resources Inc. and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation with help from Cherry Home Realty, featured homes that highlight some of the neighborhood’s strengths, Sebern said. These include designs by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, close proximity to Miller Park, downtown and the Menomonee River Passage, old-world charm and historic significance, as well as the diverse population.
“The goal of [LBWN] was to revitalize and stabilize the neighborhood,” Sebern said. “In order to do that, we have to build on the strong suits that already exist.”
Minister Bonnie Melvin hopes to find two houses to invest in for her new program, Love Foundation Youth Therapy, which helps at-risk young people become better citizens.
Melvin hopes to reach out to youth ages 8 and above who are in the juvenile justice system, she said. “We are in search of one building for training services and one building to house the children,” she explained.
The home tour attracted a variety of people who seemed passionate about finding their dream homes. Even people in the early stages of house hunting, such as Tamara Burkett, appeared enthused.
“I’ve been looking for homes online because I haven’t been pre-approved,” Burkett said. “This seemed like a great way to get inside homes without the need for a real estate agent.”
The key component of a healthy and strong neighborhood is a high percentage of owner occupancy, according to Sebern. “The higher it is, the more invested people are in their homes and in their neighborhood.”
He added, “Hopefully initiatives like the tour will lead to new, good, invested and responsible families to continue to strengthen the neighborhood.”