Wisconsin rental assistance available; eviction moratorium lapsed

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new eviction moratorium on Tuesday, Aug. 3 that will now last until the beginning of October, barring any legal challenges.

While some may be challenged to find a way to make rent, there is help out there. And while evictions are on hold yet again, it may not last.

"The biggest, key message that we have right now is that you have fallen behind on your rent because of a loss of income, experienced during the pandemic, that you apply for rental assistance," said Deb Heffner, Community Advocates housing strategy director.

Heffner said it has been a busy year, as well as past several days, after a prior eviction moratorium lapsed over the weekend and several days passed without one in place.

The CDC's new moratorium halts evictions in counties deemed as being in "substantial and high levels" of COVID-19 transmission. It also covers areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives.

"There’s definitely going to be challenges, I think we know that," said Nick Toman, Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee Housing Team attorney.

Attorneys who help people facing eviction say, regardless of what may happen, it is essential for those who may be at risk of eviction to ask for help.

"People need to be applying for rent assistance, communicating with their landlords, trying to get caught up because this is another last-minute extension that’s helping people," Toman said.

Rental Housing Resource Center

Wisconsin's Apartment Association said landlords don't want to start the eviction process, which takes time and money. But if money is owed, there is sometimes no other recourse – so communication is key.

"What we’ve been encouraging landlords to do is to work with their tenants, break down those landlord-tenant barriers," said Chris Mokler, Wisconsin Apartment Association legislative director. "And we say the same thing to tenants: Work with your landlords, break down those barriers that existed from the past."

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The path that is chosen now cold hurt or help tennants' chances of finding stable housing in the future. Housing assistance advocates say there are millions of dollars available for rental assistance, but that applying and getting approved takes time. It's best to start the process rather than waiting.

Rental assistance resources are available through the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

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