CBS 58 Investigates: Coronavirus evictions

CBS 58 Investigates: Coronavirus evictions

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MILWAUKEE (CB 58) – Social distancing and staying home are the new rules for the time being, but people are still being forced to leave their homes during this coronavirus outbreak. The rent and mortgage have to eat first, and as this crisis deepens, housing advocates worry people will lose their homes.

“I have chronic bronchitis and I have COPD and I can’t risk it. I can’t even let my grandkids in here,” said West Allis renter Jill Ferguson.

She’s in trouble. She’s 67, has health issues, and her landlord just sold the duplex she lives in.

“I just spent my last $50 on boxes from Home Depot,” said Ferguson.

She said her doctor told her to hunker down to avoid catching coronavirus, but her landlord gave her a 28 day notice to leave. She’s afraid to go apartment hunting.

“I’m not going to risk my life for that,” said Ferguson.

CBS 58 Investigates was at her apartment when the landlord and property appraiser showed up. The landlord declined to be interviewed.

Ferguson’s situation may foreshadow a coming crisis. As people lose their jobs and lose their pay, making a mortgage or rent payment could be a real struggle.

“We want everyone to have a home because that’s the only safe place for us to be right now,” said Legal Action of Wisconsin attorney Christine Donaho.

Donaho said the state should suspend these forced moves during this pandemic.

“Landlords are still issuing termination notices and asking tenants to be out by certain dates,” said Donaho.

Milwaukee County issued a stay on eviction until April 9th. The Trump administration paused foreclosures on mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

“There’s still a huge gap and many families are facing crisis management mode and facing homelessness during this pandemic,” said Donaho.

Donaho said the Wisconsin Supreme Court could issue a statewide eviction stay. CBS 58 Investigates reached out to the court. A court spokesperson said the justices will be meeting and considering how this epidemic impacts courts across the state, but did not say whether an eviction stay was in the works.

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