Milwaukee evictions, renter's assistance funds coming

Money coming to Milwaukee Thursday, Feb. 10 is supposed to help keep renters in their homes.

When people can't get help, they can lose their homes, and even a simple mix-up can lead to years of struggle.

If there’s one thing Nigeria Whatley has learned in life, it’s to never give up. 

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"I couldn’t get nobody to rent to me," said Whatley.

In 2019, she was renting an apartment on Villard.  Through a mix-up with social security, she wasn’t able to pay one month’s rent. It led to her eviction.

"To not be able to provide for my kids, I felt like the lowest person walking the Earth.  I was forced into homelessness by the state of Wisconsin," said Whatley.

At the time, Whatley had four children.  The family went from hotels to shelters and the street because of the stain on her record.

"They got a glimpse of me having an eviction, and I didn’t stand a chance," said Whatley.

The group Community Advocates in Milwaukee sees the lingering effects.

"It doesn’t go away," said Shawanna Lindenberg, Community Advocates.

Lindenberg says the most important thing renters can do is ask for help.

"Communicate to your landlord, ‘Hey, I may have some trouble. I’ve applied for assistance,’" said Lindenberg. "Not doing anything is the worst thing to do.  Communicating is the best thing to do."

While Whatley was able to get her eviction overturned in court, the struggle didn't end there. In September of last year, her son, Master Anthony Ellis died by suicide days before his 17th birthday, three months before they would have moved into a new home.

"To not be able to supply them with something like a home, somewhere to call home, a door to close, if I could switch with my son, I would have," said Whatley.

There are also renter’s assistance funds available to help keep people in their homes during the pandemic. The Social Development Commission was expected to receive a $14 million payment to help these efforts Thursday.

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