Waukesha County, WI — Mostly white on purpose

The document is riddled with bureaucratese. But put into clear English, here’s what a discrimination complaint filed recently against Waukesha County says:

Waukesha County and its cities, towns and villages are overwhelmingly white – on purpose.

The formula is breathtakingly simple. If you don’t give low-income people a place to live, they won’t move in next door, in the same census tract or even in the same town.

So poor people live where they’ve been herded by public consent. That would be Milwaukee in this neck of the woods but pockets existing elsewhere in the state as well.

This is the only fair reading of the complaint filed last week by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

That this metro region is among the most segregated in the nation is the poorest-kept secret since the revelation that deep-fried beer at the State Fair might be bad for you. Still, this has to break some unwritten rule. Shhhh. Let’s not examine too closely why some places in metro Milwaukee don’t have appreciable minority populations.

No, it’s not about uncontrollable residential patterns. It’s about very controlled residential patterns, controlled in recognition that, if someone builds it – low-income, multifamily housing – poor folks will come. But if you do build it, make it housing for the non-hip-hop listening elderly.

This complaint describes a county – Waukesha – that disburses federal funds to its municipalities without the required good faith effort to ascertain whether the recipients of that money are making housing accessible and affordable.

Read remainder of the story at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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About Bob Voelker

Head of the Munsch Hardt (Dallas law firm) Hospitality & Mixed Use Development Group, and former developer of affordable housing. I'm i
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