Economy and Business
Tue September 11, 2012
Tearing Down to Build Back Up
Wisconsin is using part of its federal mortgage fraud settlement money to tear down 65 houses. The settlement earlier this year involved five top mortgage lenders that paid a fine of $25 billion.
$140 million of that settlement is coming to Wisconsin. Some will eventually go to borrowers who can prove they were defrauded. A small portion is also going to tear down vacant rundown houses in 10 cities, 39 of them in Milwaukee.
Steven Means is an Executive Assistant at the Department of Justice. That agency is giving $500,000 to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, WHEDA. Another half million is coming from the Department of Financial Institutions.
Means says there is an anti-crime element to the program. "We don't want those houses turning into drug houses. We don't want them to turn into attractive nuisances for children who could get hurt going into a vacant house. So it was important to us that not only would this money to demolish houses to help transform neighborhoods but because of public safety interests."
Means says WHEDA determined the million dollars is better spent tearing the houses down rather than fixing them up. "By demolishing the property it does open a door to different alternatives whether it's building a new house or green space in an area or multi-family housing. So it just gives more options.”
The first house was torn down last week in Wausau.