“That’s what changes the neighborhood”

“That’s what changes the neighborhood”

Abraham is a long-time resident of Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. His parents bought a house there where he grew up. The home is still in the family, where they regularly get together for celebrations and holidays. In this area he knows so well, he’s watched over the last few years as new homes have been constructed all around his childhood home.

In 2021, Milwaukee Habitat began building the first of 80 new, affordable homes on the north end of the Harambee neighborhood. Abraham took notice of all the new homes in the area. He’s watched the neighborhood change over the years and was encouraged by the influx of families in the area.

“When I was growing up, this neighborhood used to be violent,” he says. “In the 90’s it was a gangland and I was living in the middle of it.”

But in years since, Abraham says, the neighborhood has been changing for the better. He notes the new homes in the area as reason for optimism.

“These first-time home buyers take pride in their homes,” he says. “That’s what changes the neighborhood.”

Abraham was intrigued about the opportunity to become a first-time home buyer himself. So, when he found out that he’d be able to build a brand new home for about the same as he’s been spending on rent, he jumped at the opportunity.

What came next though was an even bigger surprise. The home that Abraham is purchasing is being built directly behind the home where he grew up. Just after finding out he’d been approved to buy the home, he was at a family get-together at his childhood home. While in the backyard, Abraham pointed to the newly laid foundation built just across the alley way saying “You see that over there? That’s going to be my new house.”

The home will provide some welcomed space, compared to the one bedroom apartment he currently rents. His youngest child, Marshall (16), is the last of his children living at home and Abraham can’t wait to take on this new chapter together. He says they plan to build the home together. And when they complete the home and get the keys for the first time, Abraham knows it’s going to be a special moment.

“I’m going to take my son and we’re going to open that door together,” he says.

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