Strong Blocks Rent to Own Milwaukee Program

To build Strong Blocks, we must be wonderful neighbors, attract great residents, and maintain strong resident satisfaction. We can do this in a variety of ways, but a starting point to any positive relationship is good communication.  This new series of Resident Updates will be one way we try to add value to our residents' living experiences.

In this first edition we explore our roll-out of online resident portals, new resident referral and reward programs, a new job opportunity, tips for WE Energies and water conservation, and a few safety tips...

New Rent Payment Options: Online, Cash, and Auto-ACH no problem

Online_Portal_Image_Example_Appfolio.jpgYou may have seen an email that connects you to your Online Portal.  This will be the new system fortracking/saving your important documents, making rent payments, obtaining information on your rent payment history, and making maintenance and repair requests.  All can be done from a computer or from the convenience of your phone.  If you haven't set this up yet or have any issues getting going, please email us at

Resident Referral Program

Resident referral program picture.pngAs a valued resident, we believe you are the best person to help us expand our work to build Strong Blocks. As you may know it’s important for us that you commit to creating a community that benefits your family. To that end, we think it is important to reward your success directly when recruiting family and friends to our housing if you believe they can make an impact and be successful neighbors long-term on the blocks we help build together.

The Resident Referral Program provides the following incentives:
  • For You:
    • $140 towards your monthly rent for any new, successful Rent to Own residents referred by you
    • $50 towards your monthly rent for any new, successful Rental residents referred by you
  • For the New Resident You Refer: 
    • $50 towards their first month rent 
New resident must write that you referred him/her on their application to qualify.

Secure Futures Incentive Program


We are dedicated to assisting renters to achieve sustainable homeownership.  We want to encourage solid bill-paying habits and any bank will tell you the top priorities are your payments for shelter and utilities. The bank asks themself: "if this person isn't consistently paying for their shelter and keeping their family warm, why would they pay us back our mortgage on time" and often deny mortgage applications.  While we know everyone can hit a "rough patch", we want to reward our residents that are building a foundation on which to achieve long-term stability so we launched our Secure Futures Incentive Program.  This program will take effect starting on 10/1/17 and provides a $100 reward for any of our residents that pay 12 months of on-time rent (on or before the 1st of each month), are in good standing with all terms of their lease, and can provide evidence of 12 months of on-time utility bill payments (WE Energies and the water bill if it applies).

The bank asks themself: "if this person isn't consistently paying for their shelter and keeping their family warm, why would they pay us back our mortgage on time" and often deny mortgage applications.

The first eligible residents will be after 9/1/2018 but now is the time to start getting on track and setting up your auto-payments with rent and budget billing with WE Energies before the winter hits (see below for tips on WE Energies and saving water).

Strong Blocks is Hiring Maintenance Technicians

We’re Ready to Grow and you can help! Strong Blocks is creating a new, ground-floor opportunity for a confident person with a passion for excellence in home repair and housing maintenance services. We’re looking for a hardworking person who loves to help people, has a warm and friendly manner, and can fix things around a house. The role will include general handyman/woman services, plumbing maintenance, painting, landscaping and yard maintenance, snow removal, cleaning, debris removal, and providing an exceptional level of care for the residents we serve. They also have to have a way of paying attention to detail and going the extra mile even as you maximize the number of families you can help each day.


Tips to Save Your Life: Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke detectors are devices that are mounted on the wall or ceiling and automatically sound a warning when they sense smoke or other signs of a potential fire starting. When people are warned early enough about a fire, they can escape before it spreads.   Every year thousands of people die from fires in the home. Fire kills an estimated 4,000 Americans every year. Another 30,000 people are seriously injured by fire each year.  Let's keep our families safe by monitoring that our smoke detectors are working properly.  Our maintenance team is happy to come out and change a battery or 2 or replace existing smoke detectors if there's a more serious issue.  Otherwise, do it yourself and protect yourself and family.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is created when common fuels such as natural gas, oil, wood or coal burn incompletely. This odorless, colorless, tasteless gas is often called the “silent killer” because it is virtually undetectable without the use of detection technology like a CO alarm.  Here are a few Maintenance Tips to keep us all safe:

  • Test CO alarms at least once a month by pressing the TEST button.
  • CO alarm batteries should be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, at least once a year. If an alarm “chirps” or “beeps” to indicate low batteries, they should be replaced immediately.  Submit a work order for us to replace these if you are unable to do so.
  • When grillling, keep safety in mind and grille away from the property and open windows.
A few more tips if you have a CO alarm going off:
  • Make sure that everyone in your family knows the difference between the sound of the CO and smoke alarms, and what number to call for a CO emergency.
  • If your CO alarm sounds, immediately move to fresh air outside. Alert others In the home to the danger and make sure everyone gets to fresh air safely. Then call 911.
  • Never ignore a sounding CO alarm. 

Conserving Water: Tips and Tricks

Here are some good tips to conserve water:

  • Turn off the shower while you wash your hair to save up to 150 gallons of water each month
  • When shopping for a new washing machine, compare Energy Star models.  Some can save up to 20 gallons per load.
  • Know where your master water shut off valve is located - if a pipe busts or you have a leak somewhere, this could save lots of water and minimize or prevent damage.  Please call us at 414-379-5967 if you need us to show you and of course if you identify any leaks!
  • Don't use water to defrost food.  For water efficiency and food safety, defrost food in the refrigerator.

Check out more tips from Milwaukee Water Works here.

Available Units

Strong Blocks buys, remodels, and offers properties in north side neighborhoods nearby Downtown Milwaukee to local residents. We feature rent to own homes in Milwaukee as part of our 21-month rent to own Milwaukee homeownership program. However, we also have traditional rental opportunities. You can help your friends and family schedule a showing of any of the available units we have to offer by clicking below, or texting 414-982-3980.  Be sure they name you as the person who referred them to qualify for the resident referral program above.
Schedule showing with Milwaukee Rent to Own Program or Rental Housing

WE Energies: Tips and Tricks

If you're one of the many Milwaukee residents frustrated by WE Energies, we have some tips for you to make your relationship a little more manageable. In fact, there are some very useful services they offer to help your budget and with your credit if you know where to look. Click here for 9 secrets to help you master this important relationship and your utility bill today.  

Jeanne Johnston, Strong Blocks

Written by Jeanne Johnston, Strong Blocks

Jeanne Johnston is Stong Blocks Community Manager and in charge of resident satisfaction. Jeanne grew up in Westlawn public housing and attended James Madison High School. Jeanne is a butcher by trade, and 17-year machinist. She developed and spearheaded a custom rent-to-own program with a 24-property portfolio from 2000 through 2016. She is active with local neighborhood associations including Merryl Park/Miller Valley Jesuits. In 2012, Jeanne earned her Associates Degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College in Real Estate with a focus on United Department of Code Inspections. She currently lives in the Merryl Park neighborhood and is a homeowner.

Topics: Neighborhood Revitalization, Resident Satisfaction

Schedule showing with Milwaukee Rent to Own Program or Rental Housing

New Call-to-action