Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

City To Get $17.6 Million Federal Rent Assistance Grant

COVID-19 relief funds meant to prevent homelessness, reduce pandemic's spread.

By - Feb 10th, 2021 10:06 am
Houses on W. Windlake Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Houses on W. Windlake Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The City of Milwaukee expects to soon have $17.64 million in federal funds to dole out for emergency rent assistance.

The formula-based funds come from a new $25 billion federal program, the Emergency Rent Assistance Program Program. It was created in the latest COVID-19 relief bill.

The Social Development Commission will administer the program locally with assistance from the city’s Community Development Grants Administration office.

“We expect some additional funds coming from the state out of their allocation,” said budget director Dennis Yaccarino when the grant’s acceptance was before the Community & Economic Development Committee on January 27th.

“There will be a robust [public relations] campaign around this,” said city grant administrator Steve Mahan. He said much of the work falls on landlords and that the SDC and Community Advocates will also work with the city.

It’s similar to a $15 million program the city administered with SDC in 2020.

Eligible households are those with incomes below 80% of the area’s median income. The household must demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. At least one member must qualify for unemployment or have experienced a reduction in income due to the pandemic.

“It’s not simply about the economics, it’s about keeping families in their home to prevent the further spread of COVID,” said Alderman Khalif Rainey.

Mahan said a report is forthcoming on where the 2020 funds went. The last allocation had a $3,000-per-household cap. The new program will have a needs-based test. “We will be making sure that we are stabilizing families,” said Mahan.

The funds will be available to cover overdue utility bills and Mahan said discussions are underway with We Energies.

“There is only one element here and it’s the human element,” said Ald. Mark Borkowski on Tuesday. He made a successful motion that all 15 members be added as co-sponsors. Borkowski credited Yaccarino with finding the grant and shepherding it through the city’s bureaucracy.

No city match is required for the grant.

Interested parties are encouraged to contact the SDC about accessing the grant funds.

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