As Eviction Crisis Emerges, Milwaukee County Is Trying To Help. But Will It Be Enough?

Jul 1, 2020

When the state of Wisconsin first announced safer-at-home orders in March, it also ordered a temporary ban on evictions and foreclosures. Unlike the coronavirus pandemic, the order was limited to a 60-day-period that ended in May. Now, as COVID-19 infections are spiking, so too are evictions.

Eviction filings jumped more than 40% statewide in June, compared to last year. This story of economic turmoil, followed by an eviction and housing crisis, is familiar to Milwaukeeans — who seem uniquely vulnerable to these problems.

In Milwaukee County, officials have created a new program to help residents facing eviction. The county will invest $10 million to assist with mortgage payments, provide temporary housing, and pay for legal representation for people facing eviction. 

"We're in a unique position right now with the eviction program that we're working on. There's widespread support ... This is a program where the tenants obviously need it, the court commissioners are very excited about it, but also our landlords are very interested in it," says Jim Mathy, administrator of the Milwaukee County Housing Division. 

The money comes from the federal government's coronavirus relief bill, funds meant to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley says that although this is a step in the right direction, it's unlikely to fully meet the needs of Milwaukeeans facing this crisis. 

"When you think about the $10 million, that’s only going to be enough to help about 2,000 families. This could have an impact for up to 60,000 families. And so this is going to be an issue of resources and we just need to make sure that we can take care of our folks," says Crowley.