Memory Lane: Rehabbing vacant buildings to help neighborhoods recover

Gorman & Co.'s Northside Housing Initiative in Milwaukee features an extensive job training program to teach local residents in construction and demolition work.

For about 8 years I was proud to serve in Gov. Walker’s administration (and about 8 months in Gov. Evers’) as Public Information Officer for WHEDA, the WI Housing and Economic Development Authority.

It should be noted that WHEDA is a self-supporting public corporation that receives no tax dollars for its operations. 

WHEDA enjoyed many wondrous accomplishments when I was there, including one I’d like to share, but first this news from the Milwaukee Independent:

Milwaukee is home to one of the oldest known Juneteenth celebrations in the country, and this year marks the 50th annual Juneteenth Day festivities in the city.

As part of the celebration, Northcott Neighborhood House and the Juneteenth Planning Committee hosted the 50th Juneteenth Anniversary “History and Heritage Meets Legacy and Promise” reception on June 11.

“As we look at our golden 50th anniversary and working through a pandemic, we have so much to celebrate. We are thankful for those who have paved the way to make sure Juneteenth is still here in 2021,” said Tony Kearney, Executive Director of Northcott Neighborhood House. “We honor 23 individuals who have been pioneers, trailblazers, and those who started Juneteenth with vision and courage. These members of our community have kept the historical significance of Juneteenth alive and made it a holiday. We remain thankful to those who have added and led new components of Juneteenth down through the years, and those who have made a difference with their commitment and dedication.”

Back in 2013 while at WHEDA I worked with the above-mentioned Tony Kearney (far right in above photo) on a collaborative effort, a project to transform troubled inner city neighborhoods and build employment. The experience was very rewarding.

I wrote an article for a WHEDA publication that was also picked up by the Milwaukee Courier.

The project also received national attention.

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