Mediation could help after eviction ban lifted

Evictions are moving forward in southeast Wisconsin after the CDC's ban expired Sunday. But resources like rent assistance and mediation could help cut down on how many people end up on the streets.

When tenants and landlords want to avoid court – they turn to Mediate Milwaukee.

Demand for mediation services has quadrupled over the last year and a half.

Mediators help arrange payment plans, move-out dates and refer rent assistance.

"There’s no judgment involved, the mediator doesn’t work as a judge to make a decision for the parties we also don’t advocate for one party or the other," said Amy Koltz, executive director of Mediate Milwaukee.

The availability of mediation and rent assistance may help stem a tide in evictions in southeast Wisconsin -- after the expiration of the CDC's eviction ban.

"I don’t think we’re going to see the surge that everybody is fearing," said Tim Ballering of the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin. It encourages landlords to avoid court.

Mediation first I think people should look at that. There’s no cost involved, it's less expensive than going to court. You get to a resolution faster than if you went to court.

Milwaukee landlords are struggling with unpaid rent. Some have sold off properties.

Tenants still have access to millions in rental assistance through the Community Advocates and Social Development Commission.

Their first stop might be the new Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center – a partner of the Apartment Association and Mediate Milwaukee.

Before COVID-19 mediation often took place at the courthouse. In light of the pandemic, most mediation takes place now by phone.

On the surface, it may seem odd to see all these groups working together but in reality owners and renters are two sides of the same coin you can't harm one side without the other side being harmed.

"We’ve definitely had a lot of calls today already," Koltz said

Mediate Milwaukee has this message for at-risk tenants:

"I encourage everybody to reach out and not try to go it alone," said Koltz.

As of 4 p-m -- online records showed  new eviction filings in Milwaukee County.

We'll keep monitoring those numbers.

We have resources for tenants and landlords -- CLICK HERE.

Other organizations that can provide housing support include: