Milwaukee's 1st hostel transformed into affordable housing

A grand opening in 2019 was followed by a grand closing just a year later, all because of the coronavirus. Milwaukee's first Hostel was created after the building was taken out of foreclosure. The building, located on the cusp of the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods, is finding a new purpose. 

After the Cream City Hostel hosted thousands of travelers since it opened in 2019, COVID-19 sent folks packing. 

"Unfortunately, the pandemic has obviously caused a great hit to the income source, basically has to stop their operations," said Jerad Tonn, RiverBee LLC investor. 

Jerad Tonn is part of a group of investors who owns the building and are now repurposing the space. 

"The idea came about to turn it into cooperative housing," said Tonn. 

Already sectioned into humble abodes, the transition has begun and will offer affordable housing during a time where many are facing economic hardships while providing a sense of community. 

"It's a way to cut costs by having shared living spaces, shared bedrooms, communal spaces such as that great backyard. I think it's needed especially coming out of the pandemic," said Tonn. 

Tonn feels it could be a safe pod of social interaction and housing stability. 

"It's all about the effort of finding those first residents, those first community members. This was a foreclosed building for so long, it saw life and it's going to see even more life going forward, and we are going to make sure that happens," said Tonn. 

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Investors say the building should be able to house about 12 people and hopefully be fully operational by spring. 

Investors say it all would not have been possible without a program-related investment loan from Bader Philanthropies. 

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