MILWAUKEE SOLDIERS HOME
Milwaukee Soldiers Home in Milwaukee, WI, has won a 2021 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award in the Housing for Veterans of the Armed Forces category.
Milwaukee Soldiers Home, developed by The Alexander Company, is one of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles through perseverance, teamwork, and creativity. Today, the property includes six historic buildings within a National Historic Landmark District, that have been rehabilitated and returned to their original purpose—serving veterans. The property provides 101 homes for veterans and their families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk for experiencing homelessness. Milwaukee Soldiers Home is one of the first developments in the nation and the first in Wisconsin financed with a hybrid structure using 4 percent and 9 percent federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (Housing Credits). Syndication for the property was provided by the National Equity Fund, Inc.
The most iconic building – known as Old Main—was constructed in 1867 as a place of recuperation for Civil War soldiers as they transitioned back into society. Preserving Milwaukee Soldiers Home was the result of a decade of work by multiple government agencies, private businesses, non-profits, and thousands of individuals and contributors. With a focus on equity and engagement, project partners created a Community Advisory Council of veterans and related organizations who met regularly to explore preservation solutions. This “early and often” stakeholder engagement ensured community involvement and buy-in throughout the development of the property, which was completed in March 2021.
Extensive preservation work was done on the exterior historic features to maintain the integrity of the original building, including sourcing slate from a quarry in Vermont to match the original slate roof tiles, and refinishing the building’s wood and terrazzo floors and decorative tin ceiling tiles. In addition, several of the buildings feature veteran memorabilia and artwork from veteran artists: 175 pieces of artwork are on display as part of the buildings’ permanent furnishings, all curated by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, with all selections from Wisconsin Veteran archival collections or featuring Wisconsin Veteran stories. Rehabilitation of Milwaukee Soldiers Home also maximized sustainability efforts including landscape conservation, salvaging original masonry and stone elevators, and recycling steel framing, ensuring the property met Wisconsin Green Built Home Standards.
All residents of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home have access to a range of supportive services, provided on-site by the Milwaukee Veterans Affairs Medical Center HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. Services include care coordination, education training and employment assistance, benefits assistance, and peer-to-peer counseling. Residents also benefit from a variety of recreational activities, wellness programs, independent living skills training (including cleaning, meal planning and preparation, laundry, and personal finance), sobriety maintenance, nutritional support, outpatient clinical referrals, and referrals to partner organizations. The property is located within a half-mile of a local bus stop, various grocery stores, entertainment venues, schools, restaurants, and convenience stores.
Recognition from U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) provided Milwaukee Soldiers Home with a letter of congratulations, and additionally shared, “We have a shared responsibility to meet the needs of veterans who served our nation and who are experiencing homelessness. I am so grateful for The Milwaukee Soldiers Home and the work the Alexander Company did to bring it to life. The Milwaukee Soldiers Home provides veterans in Wisconsin with the critical assistance they deserve to acquire housing and meet their daily living needs, and I can’t think of an organization more deserving of the Housing for Veterans of the Armed Forces award.”
Statement from U.S. Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4)
“Bringing this project to life was hard work and I was pleased to be involved from the beginning” said Representative Moore. “With dedication and commitment, many stakeholders helped return life to this historic place and help homeless veterans have a home. Veterans and their families give so much of themselves to our country, and in return, we must make sure they have the resources they need. Restoring the Soldier’s Home is part of our mission to care for our veterans. I am honored to thank those who truly stepped up to help our veterans. I am glad that tools like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit were available to help make this project a reality. Tools like LIHTC are critical to helping increase access to quality, affordable housing a reality for all Americans, including our veterans.”