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For 30 years, Milwaukee resident Mark Hilton struggled with addiction. Although his dependency issues  caused him many hardships in life, while living at The Guest House, a transitional living facility for people struggling with substance abuse, he was presented with an opportunity to change the path of his life. Now two years sober and recovering, Mark Hilton is gainfully employed and living on his own.

Through programs made possible by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), Hilton went from living in a transitional living facility for those struggling with substance abuse, to holding a job building housing funded by WHEDA, to becoming a resident manager in the Safe Haven Program helping other adults overcome the same challenges he faced.

In 2007, The Guest House partnered with Heartland Housing to build permanent, supportive housing for its residents. WHEDA allocated $400,000 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits in 2007 to build Prairie Apartments, the first of many needed supportive housing developments in the city of Milwaukee.

As part of WHEDA’s jobs training and minority business program, the general contractor worked with Guest House and held a job fair for residents. Out of more than 50 people at the fair, Mark was among 11 chosen to receive training to work on site. From there, he began working security overnight and on weekends.

“It was fantastic. The Guest House houses a lot of people, and to be trusted on a job site—with all those tools and materials,” said Mark with pride. “It gave me a real sense of purpose. We batted a thousand on this one—nothing walked away.”

Mark worked for eight and a half months at the Prairie Apartments job site, before taking a job as a team leader and resident manager with the Safe Haven program working with other adults who have substance abuse challenges.

Training organizations like Big Step and the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership helped Mark get the training he needed. And upon completion of the job at Prairie Apartments, he was given a letter of reference.

To learn more about Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, please visit their website.

For more about Supportive Housing programs, see our advocacy page.