Since 1991, Select Milwaukee has grown from a one-man band to a nonprofit powerhouse, reaching across Milwaukee neighborhoods with education, guidance and relationships.
The organization’s mission is to help Milwaukee residents achieve and maintain homeownership.
“We want to be able to provide our customers financing (services) that meet their needs but also help strengthen neighborhoods in Milwaukee,” said Raymond Schmidt, executive director of Select Milwaukee.
Located north of downtown on North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Carver Park, Select Milwaukee’s signature pink and black logo stands out as a beacon of hope for first-time homebuyers and current homeowners.
“We are happy to report that roughly 60 percent of the people we see are able to avoid foreclosure,” Schmidt said.
Select Milwaukee’s 20th anniversary celebration on Nov. 17 was a testament to its success in the community. Roughly 250 clients, partners and staff members gathered for dinner and a brief presentation in the Pilot House at Discovery World on North Harbor Drive.
A video presentation showed personal testimonies of clients who shared what Select Milwaukee has meant to them and their families.
“It’s hard not to almost be overwhelmed by the experiences that people were sharing in the video,” Schmidt said.
The organization has used employees’ bilingual capabilities to help strengthen its connection to the community.
“In 2011, regardless of what your business is, if you don’t have a staff who can at least speak English and Spanish you are not going to be able to serve the widest possible audience,” Schmidt said.
Select Milwaukee is currently tapped into Milwaukee communities such as Layton Boulevard West, Sherman Park, Brewers Hill and Thurston Woods and plans to expand further into the Harambee neighborhood.
Services offered include homebuyer and financial workshops as well as repair and energy efficiency incentives. The service provided most frequently is the home ownership promotion service, which includes homebuyer education, financial wellness education, credit and budget counseling and homebuyer advocacy services, according to Schmidt.
The organization prides itself on making a commitment to its customers, old and new.
According to Schmidt, Select Milwaukee values building trust with its clients. “People come in here and basically bare their financial souls, and sometimes a lot more than that,” he said.
Select Milwaukee and Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) joined forces to initiate a loan fund to stabilize homeownership in Milwaukee neighborhoods. The loan fund will assist local homebuyers with home improvement loans, mortgages and repair costs.
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This story is part of a special report focusing on eight agencies that provide services to neighborhood residents in a variety of communities. Students from Marquette’s Diederich College of Communication created the pieces under the supervision of Prof. Herbert Lowe and NNS Editor Sharon McGowan.