Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center hopes to help those facing eviction

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MILWAUKEE (CBS) -- City leaders are highlighting available resources for people facing eviction. The Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center is working to combat housing insecurity in the city.

Housing insecurity is a huge issue, impacting families across the country. Studies show that households spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs are the most at risk.

The center is a collaboration between housing organizations, the city, and other officials hoping to help ease the burden for those in need.

"When you don’t have home stability and all that pressure is coming down on you, the last thing you need to worry about is am I going to get evicted," said Chris Johnson, owner of Grace Properties and a partner at the center.

The resource center works with tenants and landlords, providing rental assistance, mediation, and legal guidance to resolve issues and keep people in their homes. Residents can get help accessing Milwaukee's Right to Counsel program, which is funded by the city with nearly $2 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. There are also computers in the office where tenants can attend virtual court proceedings while fighting eviction.

Officials say there was a growing need for this kind of help long before the pandemic, and since, the need has only become more crucial.

"We’re still averaging hundreds of referrals weekly, so much of the work we're doing right now relates to the need for financial rent assistance or energy assistance," said Deborah Heffner, housing strategy director for community advocates.

Heffner says addressing the root issues causing housing insecurity is top of mind.

To help spread the word, all Milwaukee public libraries will now distribute informational material about the housing resource center. "It's critical that residents in every corner of Milwaukee are aware that help and resources are available right here at the rental housing resource center," said Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

The Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center is located inside Community Advocates on N. James Lovell Street. 

More information about the center is available at renthelpmke.org.

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