MMSD buying out south side homeowners

CREATED Aug 11, 2014

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MILWAUKEE -- Some Milwaukee residents are being bought out of their homes.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is buying up homes along the Kinnickinnic River on the city's south side, in order to destroy them.

In their place will be a widened riverway to reduce the risk of flooding, and improve the look of the area.

MMSD says the river is currently lined with miles of concrete, which is an outdated form of flood management that actually makes the waterway dangerous during heavy rain.

Part of the flood management project has already been completed on the stretch of the Kinnickinnic River between the 1-94 bridge and 6th Street.

About 145,000 people live on the man-made banks of the Kinnickinnic River. More than 80 of them have already accepted the buyout and agreed to move. That explains the boarded-up houses and vacant lots that have become prevalent in the area.

But some residents don't want to leave their homes. They say MMSD is not offering them enough to pay off their current underwater mortgages, or buy a new home.

"This project is definitely coming at the expense of the poorer homeowners over here," says Mary Kreinus, a mother of three. "I don't want to be a renter. I worked hard to buy my house, and I've owned it since I was 22-years-old. I don't want to give it up or be forced out. Now, it's either rent in some horrible area or be homeless."

Across the street, Kathy Cannon has been packing up her home, which has been in her family for more than 65 years. It's already been slated for demolition. Although it's hard to leave, she's hoping for a fresh start. She says MMSD gave her a fair deal.

"They're taking care of everything for me, so I can't really complain," Cannon says. "They're looking for comparable homes for me. They're offering a good chunk of money, plus moving expenses."

MMSD officials says they're offering homeowners a fair deal for properties, helping them find new places to live, and covering moving expenses.

They also say this river project will be a huge benefit to the area.