Brown Deer residents involved in affordable housing debate
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
BROWN DEER - Owners versus renters is the debate in one neighborhood sparking huge controversy.
A local developer wants to build an affordable housing complex, but the idea of renters moving in, instead of owners, has neighbors fuming.
The Village of Brown Deer gave the green light for a company to build condominiums. Five years later, ten condos went up and only four were sold. Now the company wants to build an apartment complex, but residents are urging the village to say no.
Joe Klucarich and his wife are enjoying retirement, and likes the condo they moved into.
“I've been the first resident here since they opened in May 2008," said Klucarich.
They live in Beaver Creek, just north of 60th and Brown Deer Road. While they like their community, it has not turned out to be everything they expected. The high-end condos are not selling, and now the developer, General Capital, wants to build for renters.
Klucarich said his did not have any concerns about living so close to renters. However, nearby homeowners expressed their concerned.
“I don’t want it in my backyard,” explained one resident.
General Capital admitted the 2008 housing crisis forced the company to ditch the condo community and come up with the 54 units of affordable housing complex.
“People are using derogatory terms like ghetto and racist terms which are shocking to me in this day in age,” said Sig Strautmanis with General Capital.
Strautmanis told TODAY’S TMJ4 this will not be low-income housing.
“This is a program where there are tax credits available on the front end and buys down the cost of construction. In exchange for that equity investment we agree to stay in a program that maintains affordable rent for a period of time,” said Strautmanis.
But when hundreds of residents packed a zoning meeting in late May they did not want to village to make any changes for the company. However, a few residents showed support.
“The fact is not everybody can buy a home now,” said one resident.
But a majority attending the meeting was against the plan.
According the village, 69 percent of Brown Deer residents own homes and 31 percent are renters.
When you compare the village to nearby communities, Menomonee Falls has 23 percent of renters, Glendale has 28 percent and Oak Creek has 39 percent of renters.
However, when you look at affordable housing in Brown Deer, meaning the renters are not charged the full market rate, there is less than 7 percent.
“We actually don't view such a huge differential between this owner occupancy and the rental homes,” said Strautmanis. "I think that's a perception issue.”
Residents also collected more than 1,000 signatures opposing the new plan. The zoning board plans to make a recommendation on June 10.
The village board will vote based upon that recommendation. General Capital has agreed to buy back the four condos sold from the owners if the new plan is approved.