In November 2020, the Near West Side welcomed Colin and Rachel and 9 month old Rowen to the Merrill Park neighborhood. Colin and Rachel are the first new homeowners to utilize the Live, Work, Play Homeowner Incentive to purchase a home in the Near West Side.
Colin and Rachel work for Athletes in Action, a spiritual ministry working closely with collegiate athletes, and are active at Marquette University and other university campuses in the Milwaukee area. Originally from Wisconsin, Rachel from Waukesha and Colin from the Green Bay area, the two established their careers in Connecticut. Their desire to be closer to family and a love for the Midwest led them to return home and begin the search for a new home.
Colin and Rachel focused their house hunt in a mile-wide radius around the Marquette and UW-Milwaukee campuses. They were attracted to their Merrill Park home because of its convenient location both to campus and around the Milwaukee area and neighborhood amenities within walking distance, including the Merrill Park playground and the Milwaukee Bicycle Collective. Colin is an avid cyclist and is looking forward to long rides on the near-by Hank Aaron State Trail.
When researching the neighborhood, they learned about Near West Side Partners and the $3000 Live, Work, Play down-payment grant. It was an offer too good to turn down. Working with NWSP, Colin and Rachel were prepared for their closing shortly after Thanksgiving and settled into their new home in time to celebrate the holidays.
“We place a high value on having the opportunity to be well connected to the neighborhood and community that we live in. Living within a close distance of the places we work, worship, buy groceries, or go out to have fun allows us to have the chance to be invested in our community in a lot of different ways. We hope we are the first of many people who will take advantage of the program to help make Merrill Park and the rest of the Near West Side a home of their own.”
The Live, Work, Play program is supported by Associated Bank and through partnerships with Housing Resources, Inc. and Acts Housing. In 2021, the Live, Work, Play program will be available to current Near West Side renters who are interested in becoming homeowners. If you are interested in the program, please visit or email NWSP associate director Lindsey St Arnold Bell at

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