Strong Blocks Rent to Own Milwaukee Program

"I began to consider homeownership a couple of years ago, because my son is getting older and it has been driving me to want to leave something behind for him one day."

- Michael | Strong Blocks Rent to Own Milwaukee Resident

I grew up half here and half in Long Beach California. I was born in Chicago, but moved immediately to California, until I was 14 or 15.  I moved to Milwaukee since my mom and the rest of my family was here.

I was with my dad when I lived in California, he traveled all over since he was in the Navy; but my mom came to visit me out there. I have 3 brothers and 6 sisters; half are here in Milwaukee and half are out in Arizona.  Here in Milwaukee, I am close to my mom, my uncles, and a couple of my sisters. My mom is a retired nurse, she lives pretty close by. 

When I moved to Milwaukee, I attended Washington High School, graduating early at 16 years old since my California classes were so advanced. After that, I went to MATC for courses in computer electronics.  When I was younger, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I’ve always liked computers, so that’s why I started with computer electronics.

"In the next 5 years, I plan on buying another property or to be on my way to buying another property"


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Right out of high school I began working odd jobs including at Miller Park, the Bradley Center, and the Boys and Girls Club.  Eventually I worked at an auto shop for 2 years, where learned to work on cars.  The owner taught me everything. When he sold the shop, I found a job as a CNC Machinist at Amalga Composites through a friend where I worked for a number of years.  I decided to go back to school to get a diploma from MATC in CNC Machine Operation, since there is a large pay grade jump for those with the diploma.  I became a skilled machinist and was able to find jobs at Pace Industries, and where I work now at Snap-on.

At my job, what I like most is being in control of the machine and knowing what the machine is doing. I work on my own machine and only have to depend on myself. I just do my own thing as long as the items I create hit their quality marks and don’t get returned. What I don’t like at my job is when I have to work 3rd shift or having to bounce between shifts. In fact that is one reason I left a prior job, because I was forced to work 3rd shift for 13 days on with only 1 day off, so only 2 days off the entire month.  Even with the extra hours and money you have to have time to spend it and live.

My worst housing situation was when I was living with my sister and I moved back with my mom; her landlord had said it was fine, but he just didn’t like me and eventually told me to leave. After that, that’s when I got my first apartment, which was one of my best housing situations I’ve had before. The landlord took a chance on me because I didn’t have any credit, but I did have a good job. It was a real nice apartment and he was a very good landlord; very responsive and he always fixed things when they were broken.

I began to consider homeownership a couple of years ago, because my son is getting older and it has been driving me to want to leave something behind for him one day. I started looking for new housing because I was tired of paying all my money to rent and it not doing anything. I didn’t try to buy a house, because I did a lot of research and I knew couldn’t right away. I didn’t think I had good enough credit or enough money yet. That’s when I saw the Strong Blocks Program and talked with them. I also talked with my Uncle about the opportunity. He helped me with the process, because he is a home owner, he is like the only one in my family that owns a house.


I found Strong Blocks on Craigslist through their rent to own ad. I saw a lot of rent to own ads, and I was curious about it. I didn’t know anything about rent to own, but I reached out to a few rent to own programs. I chose to work with Strong Blocks because I liked how willing to help they were. They told me what I needed to get started, I did it, and came back and it was a go.

I wanted to buy this house because I liked it, it was refurbished and I was looking for a duplex to eventually rent both up and downstairs and add some more duplexes overtime to not have to work for anybody.Strong-Blocks-Rent-To-Own-More-Questions

In the next 5 years, I plan on buying another property or to be on my way to buying another property. Then after that, continue to get a few more duplexes to be my own boss. Once I get set with being my own boss; I plan on doing some traveling and seeing things. I might also do some assistant teaching at MATC and work with MATC to teach guys coming out of jail the trade I’m in. I have done some motivational speaking at MATC in the past, for free, and they have already offered me assistant teaching job in the past.
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I felt good about the qualification process, it wasn’t anything like what I heard from other people that they had to go through to get their homes; like take a ton of classes or help to build the house or anything like that. The whole process went well; it was fast and I could tell Strong Blocks was trying to help me get to my goal.

- Michael | Strong Blocks Rent to Own Milwaukee Resident

Michael's Fun Facts:

What do you do for Fun? I like to hang out and do a lot of things with my son, who is 11. We go to laser-tag, out to eat, and to see movies.  

Favorite Movie: I love movies. I really like action movies. A comedy movie I recently saw that I liked was Central Intelligence.

Favorite Music Artist: I listen to all kinds of music; some of my favorites include Future, (old) Young GZ, A R Kelly, Lavant, Gorilla-zoe; I have a lot of favorites!

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Ready to move into a rent to own Milwaukee home like Michael? The Strong Blocks 21-month rent to own program may be for you if you aren't quite able to qualify for a mortgage and you need more time to work on your finances. If you'd like to learn more from a human, sign up for our next Weekly Orientation by clicking the image below...

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Mary Leach-Sumlin, Any House Realty

Written by Mary Leach-Sumlin, Any House Realty

Mary Leach-Sumlin is the owner/Broker of Any House Realty, which she founded in 2017. Prior to launching her own real estate firm, Mary was a Realtor for ACTS Housing since 2007, and then the Managing Broker. She has an office located inside St. Martin de Porres Parish on 2nd and Burleigh. She holds the Accredited Buyer's Representative designation. She has helped more than 200 families achieve their homeownership dreams. You can email her at

Topics: Rent to Own, Neighborhood Revitalization, Buying a Home

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