As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee and Legal Action of Wisconsin have asked a federal agency to investigate the city of South Milwaukee regarding its actions toward Lake Bluff Apartments, a 56-unit complex that houses mostly minority and disabled residents.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s regional director in Chicago, the legal organizations contend that the city is violating federal fair housing laws by attempting to shut down and raze the 14-year-old complex at 3344 Marina Road.
The complex and the city’s actions toward it has been the subject of litigation for years. A federal court trial is set for July.
City Attorney Joseph Murphy could not be reached for comment Tuesday on the request for a HUD investigation.
Karen Rotker, senior staff attorney for the ACLU’s Milwaukee office, said Tuesday that HUD had not yet replied to the letter, which was dated Friday.
The ACLU’s involvement in this case is nothing new; in fact, the ACLU has been involved in the Lake Bluff case since 2003. While the situation involving the Lake Bluff Apartments and the City of South Milwaukee is both long and complex – spanning nearly 15 years – I do think there’s some merit in the arguments being made by the ACLU. As a resident of South Milwaukee – and a resident of the Lake Bluff Apartments – I’ve come to appreciate the diversity that can be found within the Lake Bluff Apartments complex. I’m of the belief that my children – especially my stepdaughter – have learned to appreciate and embrace difference in people, no matter whether those differences happen to be skin color, religious beliefs, or physical abilities.
While I do understand the City of South Milwaukee’s arguments in favor of razing the Lake Bluff Apartments, I can’t help but wonder if this situation could be resolved without resorting to razing an entire apartment complex that’s less than 20 years old. After all, how many taxpayer dollars have been wasted fighting this legal battle? It’s time for the City of South Milwaukee and the owners of the Lake Bluff Apartments to put this conflict to rest once and for all.