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Housing advocates predict 'tsunami' of evictions filed after moratorium ends

Southeast Wisconsin has highest eviction rates in state
Posted at 1:43 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 13:15:50-04

WISCONSIN — As the eviction moratorium comes to an end, housing advocates predict tens of thousands of Wisconsinites may be facing eviction notices.

"We're expecting to go from an average of 2,300 per month to potentially over 40,000 evictions filed based on the initial unemployment claims that we saw filed in April and May," Chris Donahoe with Legal Action Wisconsin said. "It's a huge threat to the stability of the economy and to families across Wisconsin. The moratorium stalled all of those evictions that would have happened in April and May and now we're going to see all of them in June. We expect there to be a tsunami of evictions filed."

The eviction moratorium is scheduled to end on Tuesday, May 26. It's a looming deadline for people who still haven't received unemployment.

"It's terrible," Harry Mazurkiewicz said. "It's humiliating. I've been borrowing money from friends."

Mazurkiewicz is a 61-year-old painter. He's behind on his rent and, because he doesn't know when he can go back to work, he fears he could be evicted come Tuesday.

"I'm nervous," Mazurkiewicz said. "I'm a ball of nerves and my landlord is harassing me for money every single day."

The moratorium is officially lifted Tuesday, but that doesn't mean people will be out on the streets that day. However, the process can begin then.

"Tuesday is certainly a day when landlords have an opportunity to start thinking about filing an eviction," Mike Bare, Director of the Healthy Housing Initiative with Community Advocates said. "We're about to see something close to double or triple or maybe even quadruple the amount of need we saw during the height of the Great Recession."

Bare fears the ripple effects this could have on people and the economy.

"If an individual doesn't have affordable, quality and stable housing, everything else is a lot more difficult for that individual," Bare said. "You're not likely to visit a gym. You don't have your health. You're unlikely to be able to work. There are certainly many connections across all of these things."

Gov. Tony Evers passed a $25 million rental assistance program on Wednesday, however Bare has questions over how much help that could provide.

"It won't go nearly far enough," Bare said. "We're expecting this to go on for many months and $3,000 per individual was only ac ouple months worth of median rent. More has to be done. More assistance has to be made available."

On top of the rental assistance program, Council President Cavalier Johnson says they are working with the Mayor's Office to help.

"There is a state program that's on the way and there may be a possibility for us to amplify that with something at the local level," Johnson said.

There are several organizations and offices in the area that can help with any issues.

The Legal Aid Society is conducting meetings virtually over the phone or online. They can talk to you about possible representation or simply give you advice on the matter at hand. You can visit their website here, or call (414) 727-5300.

Community Advocates Rental Help Line is also available for tenants. Just give them a call at (414) 270-4646.

Mediate Milwaukee can be contacted at (414) 939-8800 for legal help, or you can call Legal Action of Wisconsin at (855) 947-2525.

Legal Action of Wisconsin also has videos and information available for tenants to understand evictions and their rights on their website.

To apply for the Wisconsin Renters Assistance Program (WRAP), click here.

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