Group working to get banks to invest in foreclosed homes

MILWAUKEE -- Common Ground's Milwaukee Rising Initiative is working to transform communities, one house at a time. The group is working to get banks to help with the cost of revitalizing boarded up, foreclosed homes, and Thursday, a tour was held to celebrate the revitalization.

The home in the tour is located at 2402 North 46th Street, and once boarded up and needing repairs, this home is getting new life, and people are taking notice. The home is selling for $107,000 and has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two car garage. "It's got such character, and again, such loving energy. It's just a wonderful place, and the gratitude we have for everyone who did this is just so overwhelming," Peg Tagliavia said. Tagliavia owned the house from 1981 through 1995, and then sold it. Since then, the house went into foreclosure, and was in disrepair, until now.

"We decided to take a stand on what was the cause of the foreclosure crisis, and a lot of them were because of the banks," Mary Leach-Sumlin with Common Ground Milwaukee Rising Initiative said.

For two years, the group has worked to get banks to reinvest in neighborhoods that have been devastated by foreclosures. The group says it took a lot of poking and prodding, but five major banks have made a $33.8 million financial commitment to the program. Now, Common Ground plans to rehabilitate 100 foreclosed homes over the next four years. "We're trying to do that strategically, which means going house by house, block by block, until we take every vacant or abandoned home off the block," Leach-Sumlin said.

The group has already rehabilitated six homes in the Sherman Park community. The other component of the initiative is getting the homes' owner occupied. "The foreclosure crisis is a crisis, but it's also an incredible opportunity, because we have the opportunity to recreate neighborhoods, and get quality homeowners into quality homes," Leach-Sumlin said.