Cream City Hostel will become cooperative accommodation
Cream City Hostel, 500 E. Center St., opened in the summer of 2019 and will soon become the first co-op housing for Milwaukee residents thanks to a $ 450,000 Program Linked Investment Loan (PRI) from Bader Philanthropies, Inc.
Cream City Hostel had not yet completed its first year of operation when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and it was forced to close its doors. The shift towards cooperative housing will begin in January 2021, with the hope of introducing it to the neighborhood in the spring or summer of 2021.
RiverBee LLC, the building ownership group of more than 40 Milwaukee investors, hopes to provide housing for at least 12 residents. This model could be replicated in other communities. The cooperative tenant housing model provides an intentional living community that helps support people facing losses and uncertainties such as employment, instability, and landlord challenges. It is also particularly well suited to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a safe “pod” of known residents.
“The beauty of this pivot is that the project will remain true to our original vision of this work, which was to collectively empower the community, ourselves and each other to make our lives and our neighborhoods better,” says Juli Kaufmann, social entrepreneur, member manager of RiverBee LLC and president of Fix Development. “We are proud to continue to create a safe and diverse place to bring the community together. ”
Kaufmann led the million dollar Cream City Hostel redevelopment project, in partnership with Riverwest residents Wendy Mesich and Carolyn Weber. Additionally, over 40 community members, mostly from the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods, have become direct investors in the building, using a crowdfunding ownership model. Kaufmann’s business model is about using real estate as a tool for social change and is the only real estate model of its kind in Milwaukee. Her work focuses on creating small businesses and local jobs using community funding options.
“We are delighted to partner with Bader Philanthropies as they are a mission-aligned community partner,” said Kaufmann. “We wanted to pivot in a thoughtful way, in the same vein that the hostel was designed for the neighborhood – to be the best and best use for the community. This model will fill a need of low income residents.