The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened economic stability for many Milwaukeeans, but for renters there has been some protection due to a moratorium on evictions. That thin safety net halting some evictions is due to dissolve at the end of the year without congressional action. This means there's a looming eviction crisis hanging over the heads of a lot of Wisconsin households.
Housing Strategy Director at Community Advocates Deb Heffner says the eviction crisis is something Milwaukeeans have been struggling with for a long time even before the coronavirus pandemic. However, the pandemic has resulted in large numbers of unemployment and severe economic losses for more people across the region. Heffner notes that one bright spot of the pandemic has been more resources being put toward keeping people in their homes.
“Your home is arguably one of the most important things about someone’s life,” she says. “So if there is a chance that you may not know where you’re going to be living or even just the stress of thinking about that, obviously it’s going to affect all facets of your life.”
But there’s more to being evicted than just losing your shelter. It’s a stain on your rental record that makes it more difficult to find housing again. For families it can also mean uprooting children from their school system while trying to maintain your dignity. Heffner says Community Advocates is currently working with landlords and tenants to apply for rental assistance.
“There’s exceptions to every rule but the majority of landlords that we work with do want to be able to keep the tenant in the house," she notes. "It’s obviously advantageous to them as well. It’s very costly to even file an eviction.”
There are also resources available for people needing help paying their mortgage, but Community Advocates is focused on helping renters.