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What We Do

Healthy Housing Initiative

In January 2018, the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute launched the Healthy Housing Initiative to improve both housing affordability, quality and stability, and public health. This five-year initiative, funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, will begin in Milwaukee and expand later to other counties.

We were inspired to create the Healthy Housing Initiativebecause we still see far too many clients struggling to meet their basic needs, specifically with housing.

As Matthew Desmond explored in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Evicted, which he researched while embedded at Community Advocates, too many low-income Milwaukeeans simply don’t have easy access to safe, affordable housing in the neighborhood of their choice. Many Milwaukeeans pay as much as 80% of their income toward housing that is substandard and could be taken away from them after missing a rent payment. This sets the stage for eviction and instability with ripple effects throughout neighborhoods, schools, the courts, public health, and the workforce.

The Healthy Housing Initiative will:

  • Increase affordable, quality housing options for all residents, regardless of income;
  • Draw from the community’s expertise via an advisory council; and
  • Empower residents to advocate for nonpartisan policy changes that impact long-standing housing inequities.

What’s so exciting about the Healthy Housing Initiative is that it focuses the resources of Community Advocates on one of the city’s most pressing issues – quality, affordable, and stable housing in the neighborhood of one’s choice. Researchers from the Public Policy Institute will work with Community Advocates’ housing advocates, who help thousands of low-income residents each year to find and keep their housing, resolve tenant/landlord issues, and avoid eviction. In addition, our academic partners at the University of Wisconsin – Marah Curtis, MSW, Ph.D., and Geoffrey Swain, MD, MPH – will guide and evaluate the initiative as it launches and expands.

To learn more about the Healthy Housing Initiative, contact the initiative’s manager, Public Policy Institute Research and Program Coordinator, Mike Bare, at or 920-242-1639.