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Millions of dollars waiting to help Milwaukee and Wisconsin renters facing eviction

Posted at 6:56 PM, Aug 05, 2021

MILWAUKEE — As people across Wisconsin worry about the eviction moratorium expiring, the state is sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars that could help. TMJ4 News looks at where the money is and how much has been used.

“We try to put out as much money as possible under the guideline of the federal government,” said George Hinton, CEO of the Social Development Commission.

SDC is helping people in the City of Milwaukee get access to the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Fund. The SDC has so far helped 8,500 families. But when the eviction moratorium expired last week, the office saw a big increase in need.

“When the moratorium ended, more people came,” said Hinton. “We have at least 2,000 people on the wait list. That’s a conservative estimate.”

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When it comes to what people are waiting for, it is not a matter of money. The federal government gave the State of Wisconsin nearly $700 million. Part of that money went directly into the state’s largest communities including the cities of Milwaukee and Madison and the counties of Milwaukee, Waukesha and Dane. The rest of the money, $577 million, went to the state to cover renters living outside those areas. Of that amount, only $131 million has been spent. That means there is still almost $445 million in the state’s pot.

“We have the ability to serve folks in need. We are going to continue to take applications. We’ll continue to do outreach,” said Susan Brown, administrator of Wisconsin Division of Energy, Housing, and Community Resources for the Department of Administration.

A For Rent sign is shown outside of a property in San Francisco, Sunday, June 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

According to the state, Milwaukee County got $19,039,262.10 from the federal funds. The county did not explain how much of that has been spent.

The City of Milwaukee got $31,600,487. The city says of that fund, about $9 million has been spent. But they have now ramped up spending to a $1 million a week.

SDC believes the application process causes a slow down for some people.

“Part of it is what we do, but it is also what the renters does and the landlord does. As long as that works in unison, it goes pretty smoothly. If it doesn’t, then we need to work with folks and that takes time,” said Hinton.

He says if you are facing eviction and haven’t applied or are in the process, they are willing to talk to your landlord.

“We tell landlords to be patient because the money is there. We just can’t, we have to make sure there is no fraud in the system and we have to make sure they give the right documentation so they can qualify,” said Hinton.

The SDC says it takes about a week and a half to process an application after all the documents are in. If you qualify, you can get up to 15 months of rent help.

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