Milwaukee Community Advocates seeing more families applying for rent assistance than ever before

NOW: Milwaukee Community Advocates seeing more families applying for rent assistance than ever before

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- From July 27 through July 31 the Milwaukee Circuit Court saw 506 eviction filings, nearly 200 more than the week prior. The number comes after the federal eviction moratorium and the extra $600 in unemployment benefits per week ended.

“Last week I think was the highest number that we saw, but you know we’re entering a new month so I’m not sure if that’s a factor,” said Deb Heffner, Housing Strategy Director at Community Advocates.

Since June 1, the Milwaukee Community Advocates Organization has had more than 2,500 people apply for rent assistance alone. Community Advocates say eviction filings continue to be sporadic, but of more than 200 rent assistance applicants surveyed, 66-percent still had unemployment applications pending.

“There were just many people that their status is pending and they’re not even sure when that next paycheck is going to come,” Heffner added.

Heffner has seen more families than ever applying for eviction assistance related programs.

“They’ve had 10,000 inquiries as of last week,” said Colleen Foley, Executive Director of Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Inc.

The Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee says the county’s housing homeless services division has also seen an increase in calls to help families.

“In the last two weeks, nearly half of the calls have been from families with small children, you know many of whom for these phone calls are living out of their cars,” said Foley.

“Any eviction on a record makes it a huge barrier for them to seek housing in the future,” said Maricela Gaona, Eviction Prevention Specialist for Milwaukee County Housing Division.

County Executive David Crowley says so far the county has allocated $15 million of CARES Act funding for eviction prevention, housing acquisition and mortgage assistance.

“Apply for financial assistance so that we could work along with the landlord so we can try to prevent the eviction moving forward,” added Gaona.

Last week, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett asked landlords to have patience while funding comes through.

“Please try to work with us and don’t gallop over to the courthouse and file the eviction action, we are putting money into these programs so that the landlords can get paid,” said Mayor Barrett.

“For better or worse, we are all in this together right now and our collective health depends on people being in a safe and stable home,” added Foley.

Foley says renters facing eviction should keep lines of communication open with their landlord and give them constant updates on their unemployment benefits and rent assistance status.

For more information on how to apply for rent assistance click here.

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