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In a heavily subsidized, four-square-mile section of Milwaukee's central city, market forces are conspicuous by their absence. Boarded-up homes await the wrecking ball. Unemployment hovers high above city and state levels. And poverty grows.
Today, however, the neighborhood between North 24th Street, Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, West Locust Street and Highland Boulevard is getting considerable attention from state and city officials, who are beginning a major new push to reestablish value in the area.
The initiative comes two years after the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), at the behest of Gov. Tommy Thompson, committed to spend $100 million on improving housing in Milwaukee's central city. So far, WHEDA has spent roughly $15 million of that total, leaving a war chest of $85 million for this project.
Recently, WHEDA designated the neighborhood as an urban commitment area, meaning it will focus attention and resources there. In the past, WHEDA has made very few loans in what agency officials described as one of the poorest neighborhoods in the state.
Also, Thompson has let WHEDA and other units of state government know that rebuilding …