"I don't think I'm the only one:" Woman struggles with state emergency assistance

MILWAUKEE -- If your family needs a place to live and you don't have the money for a security deposit, you might qualify for the state's emergency assistance fund. One Milwaukee woman had the money coming for her -- but when it went somewhere else, she called Contact 6.

Josette Jones

Contact 6 found out not even the state can get that money back.

Josette Jones has three children, and she has another on the way. That's why she applied for emergency assistance through the state's Department of Children and Families.

"I got approved for that in the amount of $516. I found a landlord, gave him the paperwork to fill out. He filled it out. I took it back to the office the same day," Jones said.

The office is the YWCA on Martin Luther King Drive. It's one of Wisconsin Works W-2 Agencies that distributes the nearly $8.5M emergency assistance program for the state.

Jones says the paperwork was for a place at 29th and Wisconsin which is managed by ANP Realty. She says ANP only offered her a one bedroom, but Jones said it was too small for her girls and declined.

Josette Jones with her three daughters

ANP told Jones they'd let her know when something bigger opened up, and even though she turned in the information to rent from ANP, she went to find another place.

Josette Jones rental information for ANP

For Jones, that was her mistake.

Emergency funds through this program are issued within five days. Jones said she called the YWCA and ANP within two days to cancel, but the check had already been sent.

Her $516 was signed for by ANP's owner, Edward Elliot.

Edward Elliot

"I'm not a tenant and he's not my landlord. Only thing I did was give him a $10 application fee and filled out the application. That was it and he got the check," Jones said.

Through the program you can only apply for the emergency assistance money once per year and Jones said the YWCA  would have to sue Elliot to get the money back.

Essentially -- Jones would have to sue to get taxpayers' money back.


"I'm going to contact Katrina Cravy because I don't know what it is that I could do," Jones said.

The Department of Children and Families only has the power to go after people who apply for the program and commit fraud. DCF has no power to go after overpayments made to the landlord -- so they couldn't tell FOX6 News how often this happens.

Both the YWCA and Jones said that Edward Elliot told them he would try to get the money back from the owner of the building but the check never came.

Contact 6 called Edward Elliot's answering service twice and left messages. Katrina Cravy also left her business card and a note to call her at Elliot's office. That was in early July. Elliot never responded.

In August, Contact 6 showed up in court for another issue Edward Elliot had with a tenant and spoke to his attorney Michael Heller about Jones' case.

Edward Elliot in court

"I have no knowledge of that case," Heller told Contact 6.

Heller said he would talk to his client.

After another phone call and follow up email, Heller said Elliot didn't want to go on camera and sent a written statement, two months after Katrina Cravy talked to Heller.

Contact 6's Katrina Cravy left her business card for Elliot

"Mr. Elliot delayed his response to Contact 6 initially because he thought it was a hoax," according to the statement. He said "because the apartment was held for her , and because she later refused possession, the owner of the property lost one month's rent, and Ms. Jones forfeited her security deposit."

Jones said that's not true, and she immediately refused the one bedroom.

Jones said she also called two days later saying she found another place.

Once Contact 6 got involved, emergency assistance did issue her another check -- so her little girls have a place to live.

"Ya'll actually been with me every step of the way, from the first time I called you," Jones said.

Josette Jones' daughters

Jones is no longer worried about her family -- but now worries about what could happen to others.

"I don't think I'm the only one that went through this," Jones said.

And the state won't know -- unless you tell them.

If you've been through something similar, call Contact 6 and the DCF.