Sam Smith grew up in Milwaukee and spent most of his life in this city. He has worked many different jobs within the city. In addition to construction and cabinet-building, he has spent 23 years with the Time Warner Cable company. Smith also purchased and rented out properties.
Smith stumbled across the ACTS Housing job while browsing the internet. As a Senior Rehab Specialist, he thought that this job would be perfect for him because he enjoys providing hands-on help to those in need. At ACTS Housing, he works with a realtor to find a suitable property for the buyer, develop a scope of work and help make sure that the property is habitable and code-compliant.
Smith believes that ACTS Housing has helped transform the neighborhood in positive ways. He has seen how houses that were about to be demolished were transformed into welcoming, comfortable homes. Many of the homes that ACTS Housing helped to rehabilitate were eyesores in the block. Fixing up one such house can create a chain reaction on the block, inspiring neighbors to improve their own home. Smith says that with an increase in home-ownership there is a concomitant decrease in the number of transient residents and a reduction in crime. He has noticed that areas with more crime tend to be areas with more rental properties where tenants are more likely to come and go. These areas lack a sense of permanence and people care less about their neighborhood.
Smith explains that ACTS Housing does more than just help people transition to home-ownership. The organization also provides financial counseling. They run people’s credit score and coach them on how to improve it. They teach residents the financial responsibility of owning a home. As a result, families are able to own a home at a lower cost than what they were paying in rent and the extra savings can go towards improving other aspects of their life.
Sam Smith, Interviewed by Joe Gaudreau, Esma Barniskis, Murray Smith, June 2016
"We are kinda like that bridge...between trying to do it on your own and trying to do it with help."