Graham Kilmer

Milwaukee County Prevents Over 1,700 Evictions

Using CARES Act funds, the county funded eviction prevention and rental assistance programs.

By - Oct 30th, 2020 11:19 am
Protest to stop evictions. File photo taken September 1st, 2020 by Graham Kilmer.

Protest to stop evictions. File photo taken September 1st, 2020 by Graham Kilmer.

County Executive David Crowley’s decision to put $10 million of CARES Act funds into efforts that would maintain housing for residents during the pandemic has averted over 1,700 evictions, according to the Milwaukee County Housing Division.

In July, Crowley announced the allocation from the county’s $77 million CARES Act funds. And the single biggest allotment was to the county’s Housing Division to prevent evictions in Milwaukee County.

Job losses from the COVID-19 pandemic have been substantial. And many people still haven’t returned to work. From the beginning, a major concern was that the pandemic would create a massive wave of evictions in Milwaukee County, where Black residents are already disproportionately affected by evictions.

The funds Crowley allocated to the housing division were used to fund direct eviction prevention in the form of rent payments, rental assistance, and legal aid to those facing eviction proceedings.

The county then provided $6.5 million to Community Advocates to process applications for eviction prevention funding and make payments directly to landlords and $2.5 million to Hope House to provide rental assistance and also case management for families once their living situation has stabilized.

“A vast majority of individuals that are receiving these funds are falling into the extremely low-income levels,” said James Mathy, housing division administrator, told the county board’s Health and Human Needs Committee.

So far, the funds have been used to prevent approximately 1,730 evictions, Mathy said, 81% of which were for Black households.

Recently, Community Advocates has been spending approximately $400,000 a week on eviction prevention, Mathy said. The national eviction moratorium authorized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ends at the end of 2020. “And we are all very concerned about what would happen at the first quarter of 2021,” Mathy said.

Of the $2.5 million allocated to Hope House, $1.5 million has already been spent. More than half of the population Hope House has served with rental assistance have been families. And after the living situation has been stabilized, Mathy said, families are provided with a case manager that can connect them with other social resources, be it help with employment or mental health.

Along with the eviction prevention efforts. The county’s housing division has been working to get homeless individuals into housing during a time when shelter capacity is limited by COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Right now, the county has placed approximately 100 homeless individuals in hotels.

“Without this CARES Act funding with eviction prevention we would have seen a dramatic spike in homelessness,” Mathy said. “With frankly not a lot of places for individuals to go at the moment.”

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