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Milwaukee Receives Two of Seven National Awards for Successful Community-Police Partnerships in the Amani and Washington Park Neighborhoods

2.01.2017

Crime undermines all aspects of a thriving community including education, housing, business, employment and recreation.  Amani, Washington Park, and MPD are receiving local and national attention for their comprehensive and collaborative approach to safety and neighborhood improvement. Efforts bring major changes and hope to historic neighborhoods hit hard by divestment.

The Dominican Center, Habitat for Humanity and Milwaukee Police Department accepted national MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards for Excellence in Civic Engagement and Excellence in Neighborhood Revitalization and Economic Vitality, respectively. LISC Milwaukee hosted a press conference at the Moody Park Community Building, which was attended by Alderman Khalif Rainey, Alderman Russell Stamper Jr., District Attorney John Chisholm, MPD Chief Edward Flynn, Patricia Rogers, Dominican Center, and Brian Sonderman, Habitat for Humanity, Donsia Strong Hill, LISC Milwaukee, and other community and government leaders.   

Since 2002, the MetLife Foundation and LISC’s National Community Safety Initiative have partnered to recognize innovative partnerships between community groups and police to promote neighborhood safety and revitalization across the nation. This year, 400 police departments and community organizations applied for the recognition, and Milwaukee was the only city to receive two awards.  Winners receive a $20,000 discretionary grant. Other projects were named in Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Johnson City, TN, Melbourne, FL; and Chicago, IL. 

About the Habitat for Humanity Project: In April 2013, Milwaukee Habitat launched a neighborhood revitalization strategy in the Washington Park neighborhood on Milwaukee’s west side. The project is clustering Habitat families, new and rehabbed homes, and home repair projects in a single neighborhood, in an effort to increase property values, decrease crime, and build a strong network of homeowners. Currently, there are over 200 families that own Habitat houses in the neighborhood.  When deciding where to build and rehab homes in the Washington Park neighborhood, Habitat consults with both the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) and Milwaukee District Attorney’s (DA) office.  Habitat selects properties to build on or rehab, followed by a law enforcement review of the plans and parcel by parcel analysis.  Law enforcement then removes negative influences through arrests and by alerting landlords of drug and other illegal activity.  As a result, crime has declined. There has been a 27% reduction in violent crime in the neighborhood since 2013 and 30% reduction in violent crime on the blocks were Habitat implemented housing projects.

About the Dominican Center: For more than 20 years the Dominican Center has partnered with neighborhood residents of Amani, to increase access to quality education, housing and employment. The Dominican Center was designated the lead community anchor for the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP) in Amani in 2012. BNCP is part of the federal initiative to address poverty and underlying critical and interlocking issues of education, employment, housing, health and safety in distressed neighborhoods; and design and implement a resident-led revitalization plan.  Through this initiative, the Dominican Center facilitated a resident-led neighborhood revitalization effort resulting in the formation of a resident group, Amani United. Amani United created block advocate groups, conducted neighborhood cleanups, held anti-violence vigils, vacant lot events, beautification efforts, and the rebirth of Moody Park. 500 people celebrated the grand opening of Moody Park in August 2015 and over 700 Amani residents have participated in activities over the past year.  The target area has had a 21.6% decrease in crime compared to a 13.2% decrease citywide for the period of 2012-2015.

About MetLife Foundation: MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since its founding through the end of 2013, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $600 million in grants and $70 million in program-related investments to organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over the next five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. (www.metlife.org).

LISC’s national Community Safety Initiative has participated by supporting alliances between communities and law enforcement to reduce crime. LISC has administered the MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards since 2002. (www.lisc.org