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Even With New Eviction Moratorium, Milwaukee Housing Advocates Encourage Struggling Renters To Reach Out

Aerial view of Milwaukee
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While the pandemic has been hard on many renters, Eric Collins-Dyke says there are now more resources available to help those in need.

This week, the Biden administration extended a ban on evictions for another 60 days. It applies to people in counties experiencing substantial or high levels of COVID-19 spread, including Milwaukee County.

Deb Heffner is housing strategy director at Community Advocates and a coordinator at the Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center. She says the eviction moratorium gives tenants who are struggling more time to catch up on rent payments, but she would encourage them to reach out to organizations like the Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center as soon as possible.

Heffner says those agencies can help connect renters with information and services to help keep them in their homes.

“Our message throughout the moratorium has really been that the key is if you've experienced hardship that these dollars exist and they can help you get caught up on your rent so there's no arrears or no threat of eviction or losing your house,” she explains. “We've been in this race against the moratorium lifting, and with each extension, it's given us a little bit more time, but our goal has always been to be able to get out the word about the assistance and try to get out all the assistance as quickly as possible.”

Eric Collins-Dyke is assistant administrator of supportive housing and homeless services for Milwaukee County, which also works to connect residents with housing advocacy and rental assistance programs. He says that while the pandemic has been hard on many renters, there are now more resources available to help those in need.

Still, Collins-Dyke says the work is far from over. We really, as a community, need to look at how we annualize these resources post pandemic. So everything from eviction prevention dollars, the way we used hotels in the winter for people on the street, those are things we should have in our community every year,” he says. ”If there's any silver lining in this, I think we have to do deeper dives into some of the root causes of this from an upstream standpoint to make sure we're doing our due diligence in serving the community.”

The new eviction moratorium is scheduled to last until Oct. 3. But landlords from Alabama who tried to stop a previous pause on evictions returned to federal court on Wednesday, asking for an order to allow evictions to resume.

In June, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an extension of the moratorium, a justice warned the Biden administration not to act further without explicit congressional approval, but the administration hopes differences between the new order and the old one are significant enough for the latest extension to remain in place.

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