Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

City Lands $61 Million For Rental Assistance

Emergency assistance funds will be distributed by SDC and Legal Aid Society.

By - Jan 12th, 2022 10:40 am
Houses along S. 15th Pl. in the Polonia neighborhood. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Houses along S. 15th Pl. in the Polonia neighborhood. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee has been awarded $61 million in federal funding for use as emergency residential rental assistance.

The funds, to be distributed by the Social Development Commission, build on an earlier $27 million grant.

“Along with my administration, these agencies will work with families and make sure the monies are allocated promptly, effectively, and fairly,” said Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson in announcing the news.

According to city community development grants administrator Steve Mahan, the city expects to be able to help 5,000 families with the funding.

“The Milwaukee Emergency Rental Assistance money can be used by qualified households to pay rent and pay back rent. It can also be used for energy costs and other housing-related expenses,” Johnson said. “Individuals who are seeking assistance can contact Social Development Commission online at”

Once validated, the funds are provided directly to a landlord or utility provider.

SDC reports that it supported more than 7,000 families with an average payment of $2,328 in 2020 through both state and city-backed efforts. The program is explicitly for city of Milwaukee residents and rental payments. To be eligible an individual must qualify for unemployment or have experienced a significant reduction in income or other financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, be at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing unstable housing and have a household income below 80% of the Milwaukee County median income. Households at or below 50% of the county median income or that have been unemployed for more than 90 days will be prioritized, according to the SDC website.

Landlords may also apply directly on behalf of their tenants.

The Milwaukee grant award is part of a $2.8 billion federal allocation. Milwaukee County received $50 million from the state’s allocation that is to be used for similar housing efforts. Those seeking access to the county funding should apply through Community Advocates. Applying to either SDC or CA is free.

The Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee is providing free legal counsel to individuals facing eviction.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article said Legal Aid Society was distributing the funds with SDC, the society is providing legal counsel.

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