Banking platform Rallius will spend $2 million on a pilot project to build homes

Rallius, a fintech company, is spending $2 million to build up to 20 homes in Milwaukee as part of an affordable housing pilot program aimed at closing racial gaps in homeownership, according to a company statement.

The project is led by Teresa Esser, general manager of community banking for Rallius and a longtime investor in Milwaukee.

“We are extremely proud that Milwaukee has been selected as Rallius’ first partner city to accelerate wealth creation for marginalized communities,” Esser said in a statement.

Rallius is a fully digital banking platform operated by its parent company, ESG Financial, a banking company that uses its customers’ money to support and invest in “environmental, social and governance” initiatives.

Rallius began working with the Rotary Club of Milwaukee’s Invest in Milwaukee committee to research the community’s most serious needs.

Milwaukee is one of many cities struggling with an affordable housing crisis.

More than half of the city’s renters are considered rent dependent, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent, according to a 2021 analysis from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

Milwaukee also had the second-lowest black homeownership rate (27.2%) among the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, according to a 2021 report from the Center for Economic Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

To tackle these issues, a revived community development alliance made up of government, philanthropic and community leaders released a blueprint for how to solve the affordable housing crisis in Milwaukee in August 2021. The plan called for more than $100 million in grants and loans, some of which would be used to build 850 new affordable homes over the next 10 years.

The Rallius pilot, the company said in a press release, relies on this CDA research.

If the results of the pilot project are positive, Rallius plans to scale them up to further increase the supply of affordable housing in Milwaukee.

“This affordable housing pilot project will attract and accelerate capital investment in downtown Milwaukee neighborhoods and, in turn, help address systemic inequalities and provide access to wealth creation for minority communities,” Esser said in a statement.

Talis Shelbourne is an investigative solutions journalist covering the issues of affordable housing and lead poisoning. Do you have any advice? You can reach Talis at (414) 403-6651 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @talisseer and message him on Facebook at @talisseer.