Eviction Free MKE launches with new office space after helping more than 8,500 people in first 2 months

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Eviction Free MKE started helping those at risk of eviction Sept. 1, 2021, but Thursday, they launched with a new office space downtown. 

On Oct. 14, all of those involved in making Eviction Free MKE a success attended the grand opening on the second floor of the Legal Aid Society building downtown. 

The new space will provide offices for nine lawyers, two paralegals and a social worker that will all help people who are at risk of eviction. 

"The ability to have a lawyer next to you really is a game-changer," said Amy Lindner, the president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County.

The United Way has a goal to end homelessness in the region by 2025 and Eviction Free MKE is an integral part of that.

"Last week there were 290 evictions filed, which is -- it's a big number." said Colleen Foley, the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Inc. "During the moratorium that used to hover around 120 [people]." 

Since the Supreme Court ruled to allow families to stay in their homes during the pandemic, Eviction Free MKE was helping about 35 people a week. They now expect that number to go up. In Milwaukee County, about 14,000 residents file for eviction every year.

Eviction Free MKE is a 3-year pilot program to help level the playing field for those people who often don’t have legal counsel.

"When someone has counsel in eviction court, they are 90% more likely to get the case dismissed or at least delayed," said Senator Tammy Baldwin. 

Sen. Baldwin says she is working to get federal funding that will allow Eviction MKE to provide people help with rent and utility payments as well.

"I'm working to secure another million dollars for this program on behalf of the United Way of the Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, and ensure Milwaukeeans have representation when they face eviction," said Baldwin.

Less than 5% of all people facing eviction do so with legal counsel.

Oct. 17 through Oct. 23 is National Homelessness Awareness week, and Eviction Free MKE hopes this can be another resource to keep families in their homes. 

You can get in touch with Eviction Free MKE here for help or services. 

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