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By   –  Reporter, Milwaukee Business Journal


Construction could start next spring on the first of 36 tiny houses in Milwaukee that will put a roof over young adults’ heads while they train for stable jobs.

Those houses would be built over a three-year span at 4200 N. Humboldt Blvd. on green space that belongs to the Milwaukee Area Technical College. Milwaukee County currently has more than 100 young people who would be eligible to live in the houses, said Tim Baack, president and CEO of Pathfinders, the Milwaukee social services organization that is part of the project team.

They are designed for people ages 18 to 25 who aged out of the local foster care safety net, but still need help finding stable employment, or other services.

“Without adequate housing, it becomes much more difficult, if not impossible, for someone to be trained and get a job, and keep a job, to have their social and emotional well-being taken care of,” Baack said. “Housing really needs to come first so that stability and safety is present. From there, all else becomes more possible.”

The 300- to 350-square-foot houses, each with their own kitchens and bathrooms, would create that stability. Milwaukee County’s Housing Division would help cover rent payments while residents work toward a steady job.

The small-scale neighborhood would be built within walking distance of Pathfinders’ building, where other support will be available.

The tiny houses is a collaboration between Pathfinders, Milwaukee County and developer Gorman & Co. Inc., which is doing pro bono work to support the development. It gained a first city endorsement Monday from Milwaukee’s Plan Commission.

Ted Matkom, Wisconsin market president for Gorman & Co., said the houses will cost about $80,000 apiece to build. Construction could start in April 2018. Money is in place for the first 12 houses, including a $100,000 grant from Milwaukee County’s Housing Division. If more money is raised before next spring, more houses could break ground next year, he said.

The team members hope to have all 36 tiny houses built over a three-year span.

Pathfinders secured a three-year state award of $250,000 annually for services to support people who will live in the houses. That will also cover the salaries of two service providers, one of whom will live in a tiny house to provide on-site support, Baack said.

The end goal is to have residents transition out of the houses after securing steady jobs. Gorman & Co. would provide construction job training through its ongoing campaign to rehab foreclosed single-family houses in the city of Milwaukee. The developer has been doing those home rehabs for several years.