By Anne Marie Gunn, Near West Side Commercial Corridor Coordinator
Residents at College Court, a public housing apartment building for seniors and adults who are disabled, have always been an important source of feedback and insight for Near West Side Partners’ plans, projects, and programs. The creation of the Resident Council in 2019 supplemented the process of applying for the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department’s implementation grant. In partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM), NWSP and Marquette University applied for and was awarded a Choice Neighborhood Initiative Planning Grant to create a transformative plan for the neighborhood.
Since the development of the Near West Side Transformation Plan, a comprehensive plan to improve and enhance housing, neighborhood amenities and opportunities, NWSP has continued to meet monthly with the Resident Council to brainstorm and implement various projects at College Court, such as planting vegetables and flowers in the gardens and hosting cooking demonstrations to encourage healthy eating. At October’s meeting, HACM’s Associate Director, Willie Hines, was able to join in on these conversations.
Almost forty residents gathered in the community room at College Court at October’s meeting. Willie Hines spoke about HACM, the resources and services they provide, how COVID has impacted their team , and their desire to make improvements to College Court and their other properties. Residents then had the opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns about the building. Hines provided answers to some of the questions and planned to look into the other issues that he could not answer immediately. After the formal meeting, several residents were able to speak individually with Hines about additional questions.
This meeting provided the opportunity for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee to hear from the residents and for residents to feel heard. Near West Side Partners plans to continue meeting monthly with the Resident Council to help foster a positive and collaborative relationship between residents and organizations within the community. Regular dialogue and open communication will provide opportunities to brainstorm solutions together to help address the physical issues and projects in the buildings. With this continued monthly connection, all partners will help ensure safe housing for the College Court residents.