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Alderman's comments spark discussion on the stigma around affordable housing

By Taylor Lumpkin,


Comments made by Brookfield Alderman Kris Seals regarding the future of an affordable housing initiative coming to the city have housing advocates speaking out.

"If you can't afford those units, then you live in Wauwatosa or West Allis until you can afford to move into Brookfield," said Seals during a Jan. 17 council meeting.

The comments have since sparked an important conversation for housing advocates who say the stigma surrounding affordable housing needs to end.

"There are way too many assumptions around that this is a handout or this is an entitlement," said Kelly Andrew, the vice president of strategic partnership for ACTS Housing. "These are families. These are parents with kids who want the best for their kids who are working."

Andrew has been working with ACTS Housing to help bridge the homeownership gap between families in Milwaukee for nearly four years. It is a city where nearly three out of four Black families do not own the home they live in, while nearly three out of four white families do.

"There are factors stacked against families of color here in Milwaukee often from birth," said Andrew. "A home, a property, is a very basic way that many families can build wealth and that is a game changer."

In 2021 the non-profit helped 305 families purchase homes. Nearly half of those purchases were made by Black homeowners.

"If we empowered more people to build wealth in this way, a lot of things would change. These are people living and contributing and raising kids and having families who are just as entitled to affordable housing as anyone else," said Andrew.

That's why Andrew says it's important for people to really understand the impact affordable housing can have on both families and communities in Wisconsin, and break the stigma.

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