KANDO: Improving Quality of Life Since 1992
In 2005, Ron Hegwood, a landlord and founder of RJH Properties, noticed two properties in the Havenwoods neighborhood that were being poorly maintained by a landlord.
The Kaul Avenue Neighborhood Development Organization was then in the process of removing the landlord of these buildings out of the area.
KANDO is a group of landlords and homeowners that focuses on improving safety and property values in the community.
“The KANDO association was very involved in trying to oust (this) landlord that they felt was a bad influence on the area,” Hegwood said.
During this conflict, Hegwood was not a member of KANDO, but owned 28 units in the area. Hegwood had properties in close proximity to the poorly maintained units.
After witnessing the negative influence these properties had on the neighborhood, Hegwood began attending KANDO meetings, and now works as the organization’s vice president.
Hegwood said landlords working for this organization invest in their properties and make sure they keep the neighborhood looking nice.
“You can try and make money short-term and not put resources back into it,” he said. “At one point, these buildings were all new – they got the way they were because no one invested money into them.”
KANDO President Mike Link said removing the slumlord has been the organization’s greatest accomplishment.
“KANDO spearheaded the effort (against him),” he said. “We had news crews and members of the inspection department go out there. It ultimately forced him to sell those buildings.”
The two properties that were bought by Hegwood were two of the larger properties in the neighborhood. Hegwood said he was able to completely renovate the units and rent them out.
Mike Link owns 14 buildings in the neighborhood, and said he spends a lot of his time interacting with tenants.
"You can tell (the tenants) just feel a lot more comfortable and they're impressed to have a landlord that is that active and involved in the neighborhood," he said.
KANDO has close relationships with Milwaukee's fourth police district, the Department of Neighborhood Services, the Department of Public Works and elected officials.
"When you have that immediate partnership, I think you see homeowners start to feel more at peace, and they think they've claimed their neighborhood a little more," said Elizabeth Hammer, a community developer for the Havenwoods Economic Development Corp.
Hammer has worked with KANDO since 2003. She works with various neighborhood organizations, including neighborhood block watches and other landlord groups.
Since the founding of KANDO, Hammer said she has seen increased safety in the neighborhood, as well as residents taking greater pride in the area’s appearance.
Hammer said poor care of homes by some landlords has created tension between homeowners and tenants.
"When you have landlords that are bad landlords – that just put in anybody to get a fast buck – what happens is the homeowners' services tend to get abused," she said.
Hammer said changing how landlords think about their properties is important to community revitalization.
"When you have a group of landlords like the KANDO landlords, you see a shift in the neighborhood," she said. "You see tenants more emotionally invested in the neighborhood."
Hammer also said a more selective approval process for prospective tenants benefits the KANDO community because it benefits homeowners’ quality of life.
"When they get a better tenant, you tend to see a more unified neighborhood, and you tend to see tenants stay longer,” she said.
In addition to improving the overall appearance of the neighborhood, KANDO works at improving relationships between homeowners, landlords and tenants, Link said.
"Tenants want to stay in a comfortable place to live and homeowners want to see cooperation between themselves and the landlords," he said. "We serve as resources for one another."
Link said KANDO helps bring unifies the community and helps landlords and homeowners work together to solve important issues.
“We serve as resources for one another,” Link said. They can look out for each other and make it a little bit more of a neighborhood and a cohesive unit.”