Graham Kilmer
MKE County

County Announces Housing Assistance Program

Using CARES Act funds and a partnership with the courts, Milwaukee County will help prevent evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By - Jun 11th, 2020 03:50 pm
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Homes on N. 56th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Homes on N. 56th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County announced a landmark housing fund Thursday aimed at providing housing stability to Milwaukee County residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county is allocating $10 million in CARES Act funds to help county residents pay past-due rent, for mortgage assistance and to build out housing options. On top of that, the county’s Housing Division is partnering with the circuit court system to provide guidance and assistance to tenants and landlords during eviction proceedings.

A total of $7 million has been set aside to help renters pay back unpaid rent, $2 million will pay for property acquisition and rehabilitation and $1 million will go towards mortgage assistance for households that need short-term mortgage assistance.

If access to these resources could help you maintain your housing, contact Community Advocates’ Rental Housing Resource Center at 414-270-4646. You can also access the organization’s rent assistance portal online.

“[Milwaukee County] is facing two pandemics, COVID-19 and racism. COVID-19 has laid bare the significant racial disparities impact related to healthcare, housing and access to resources,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley at a press conference Thursday outside the courthouse.

African-American residents make up approximately 80 percent of the county’s enrollees in its eviction prevention program. So this new initiative is aimed at fighting both pandemics he said. The housing assistance program is the first in a series of initiatives the county will roll out in coming weeks to advance “health and racial equity,” Crowley said.

Both Crowley and County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson called on the state to provide Milwaukee County with additional funding to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Milwaukee County residents have experienced a disproportionate impact from the disease, particularly the African-American and Hispanic community. The county has the greatest number of total cases and the second greatest per-capita outbreak.

Without additional funding, Nicholson said, “Our residents, especially people of color, will continue to suffer an unjust burden and racial disparities in health.”

State Representative Evan Goyke called on state leaders in Madison to pay attention to what Milwaukee County has achieved with this new housing initiative. Goyke said “a broad and diverse set of stakeholders came together” to address the housing problem. “It happened really fast, I mean faster than the speed of government.”

“So pay attention leaders in Madison, this is what happens when you invest in local government and local leadership,” he said.

“These new resources will preserve a basic human need for housing,” said Mary E. Triggiano, Chief Judge of the state’s First Judicial District, said, 

Right now, the courts process about 250 eviction proceedings a week, she said. The new initiative will see the housing division working with the courts during eviction hearings, “to help prevent evictions in real time.”

State Rep. David Bowen was at the press conference, and said that systemic racism, and now the COVID-19 pandemic, are challenges that compound each other. He said that as the pandemic continues, “The need for these critical services will continue to grow and rise.”

Bowen, who is also a landlord, said landlords should, “extend grace to the residents that you have. Right now we are dealing with a tough time and we are all feeling the pinch.”

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Categories: Politics, Real Estate

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