Business puts vets to work rehabbing foreclosed houses

From Stars and Stripes

by Paul Gore

In an 87-year-old bungalow in West Milwaukee, Sue Loomans is addressing, with a single project, three of the nation’s concerns: jobless military veterans, the foreclosure crisis and the environment.

With a work crew made up mostly of vets referred through Department of Veterans Affairs programs, Loomans’ new business – PropertyVets LLC – is renovating a foreclosed house, an undertaking that includes the installation of energy-saving systems and appliances and the use of nontoxic finishes.

As fresh paint goes on the walls, the old kitchen floor is peeled back, an old furnace is dismantled and a state-of-the-art unit is installed, the vets are able to use their existing home-renovation skills or learn new ones.

When they’re finished with the house in the 5200 block of W. National Ave., PropertyVets plans to rent it out or sell it. Then the fledgling company plans to tackle another foreclosed house – and another, and another.

“The idea is to do a really good job with these homes, and in most cases, manage them as rentals,” said Loomans, a former Air Force officer. “Now and then we may actually sell one of the properties. But what it’s really about, aside from turning houses around, is being a continual source for employing veterans.”

If it is successful, it could serve as a model for cities across the nation.

“There’s no shortage of vets, no shortage of foreclosures,” Loomans said. “And what I’m finding is there’s no shortage of people wanting to rent good housing.”

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