Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Federal Funds Huge for Eviction Prevention, Housing

County on track to have lowest level of street homelessness ever recorded, housing director said.

By - May 13th, 2021 10:44 am
Homes on N. 20th St. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Homes on N. 20th St. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County has used federal funding to prevent an estimated 5,480 evictions since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Under Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, the county put approximately $18 million of its allocation from the CARES Act into eviction prevention and housing assistance. 

The county started cutting checks to renters and homeowners in June to keep them in their homes. Since then, the county has spent down nearly all of the money it has put towards rent and mortgage assistance. 

The number of evictions the county prevented with these funds is both good news and bad news, said James Mathy, director of the Housing Division in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

“Bad news is just a tremendous amount of need out there, and there continues to be,” he told the board’s Health, Equity, Human Needs and Strategic Planning Committee Wednesday. “The good news is, though, I just think that the county and its partners just did a phenomenal job especially with eviction prevention.”

After hearing the number of evictions the county prevented, Supervisor Ryan Clancy said, “That’s really a testament not only to the work of DHHS and Housing but to the idea that when we allocate these federal and state funds directly into the hands of people that are impacted by disaster that it really does have an impact.”

The county in partnership with Community Advocates, has provided $11.1 million rental assistance. The majority of that funding went to residents between the ages of 21 and 35, 77% of the recipients were women who are the primary or sole breadwinner in a home, 83% of the recipients were Black county residents and 83% went to those living on a “very low income,” Mathy said.

The county also spent $2.7 million through Hope House of Milwaukee, a shelter and re-housing non-profit, to provide rental assistance, case management and wraparound services like educational support, and mental health and addiction services. The organization would also work with individuals and families “on what their future plans were after rental arrearages were paid,” Mathy said.

The county partnered with Housing Resources to provide mortgage assistance. Of the $3 million allocated for mortgage assistance, only $1.7 million has been dispersed so far.

The numbers aren’t yet final, Mathy told the committee, but the housing division is expecting to soon report the lowest numbers of street homelessness the county has ever seen. He said it will be a “substantial decrease” even from the numbers seen last year.

“And I really think that is due to all this type of flexible funding that our communities never had before,” he said.

The county is also on track to receive even more funding for housing assistance and eviction prevention. Mathy said the county is expecting to receive $21 million in state and federal funds by the end of the month. These funds include $12.6 million from the state and $8.7 million from the federal government’s Emergency Rental Assistance program.

The federal rental assistance program was created by the American Rescue Plan Act passed in early March.

After hearing the latest report on the use of housing assistance funds, Committee Chair Sup. Felesia Martin said, “It does speak volumes when we put our dollars where our values are.”

Categories: MKE County, Weekly

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