Lutheran Church in Center of Latino Community Movement
|Luis Acosta used to work in spirits as a marketer for Jack Daniel’s whiskey in South American countries, but has since begun working for the Holy Spirit. Now, he’s a Lutheran pastor in Milwaukee.
What’s most interesting about Acosta, perhaps, is the fact that his story is emblematic of a broader movement. It mirrors the move of many in the Latino community to the far northwest side of of Milwaukee.
The migrations have been facilitated by several key factors. Firstly, they find affordable rents in multiple-family apartment complexes. In turn, this then gives them easy access to jobs in the surrounding area. Also, the self-storage industry, which makes long-distance moves easier, is doing quite well in Milwaukee. Not only has it been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the United States commercial real estate industry for the past 38 years, but it’s also been burgeoning in Milwaukee county. According to the minutes of the January 15, 2014 Pension Board Meeting, self-storage has been one of the strongest performing sectors in the Prime Property Fund over 2013.
“It was very affordable, and I’m proud of what we have,” said Luis Oscar Ortiz, who moved to Milwaukee from Puerto Rico about five years ago.
According to 2012 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population living in the northwestern section of the city was around 600. This, however, is an undercount, according to Acosta and others. He reckons that there are a few thousand Latinos living in the area. According to 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos made up 14% of the some 956,023 people living in Milwaukee county, which adds up to about 133,843 Latinos living in Milwaukee county.
Clarence Jenkins, the development director and operating officer of the Risen Savior Lutheran Church where Acosta works, says that he’s seen the area change. It was about six years ago when Latinos started moving into the large apartment complexes near the church.
This led to the church needing a bilingual pastor, which is how Acosta found himself in Milwaukee.
“There was no one to serve them because of the language, so we started services and people started coming,” said Jenkins.
Acosta, who believes the growing Latino population and his church are helping to build the area, said, “We’re creating a new Hispanic community here.”