Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct Lincoln Park to Layton Park in a quote by JoAnna Bautch, executive director of VIA.
Since 2008, VIA Community Development Corporation has run its turnkey program, which transforms vacant bank and city-owned properties into fully renovated, move-in-ready homes for qualified families looking to purchase throughout Milwaukee.
Now the organization plans to build 1,100 square-foot starter homes valued at about $110,000. VIA hopes to break ground this month.
It also is collaborating with organizations like the United Community Center, which provides first-time homebuyer classes to get residents down payment assistance of a minimum of $10,000.
Serving the community
VIA, formerly known as Layton Boulevard West Neighbors, serves the Silver City, Burnham Park and Layton Park neighborhoods. It focuses on economic development, housing and community leadership and has been serving the community since 1995.
“When I first started, Layton Park ended at Lincoln Avenue and, for me, I just didn’t think that that was equitable,” said JoAnna Bautch, the executive director of VIA. “I didn’t think that there was a good explanation to our neighbors as to why we serve some folks in the Layton Park neighborhood and some folks we don’t serve.”
VIA now serves residents who live east of 27th Street to 43rd and Pierce streets to Cleveland Avenue.
VIA also works to build community through civic engagement.
“While we educate a lot on voting, we recognize that not everybody can cast a ballot, for whatever reason,” said Brisa Van Galen, the group’s community outreach director. “We try to think of programs and initiatives to help people understand that they still have a voice … (and) that they can still participate.”