With unanimous vote, Milwaukee County Board sets aside $200K 'to prevent evictions'

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, with a unanimous vote on Thursday, May 24, authorized the Housing Division to set aside $200,000 to launch an eviction prevention project.

"In Milwaukee County we are moving beyond talk and into real action to confront the eviction crisis head on. We are dedicating new resources to prevent evictions, keep our residents in safe housing when threatened with eviction, and double the capacity for legal defense when it is needed. Our bold, comprehensive approach will help stop the traumatic cycle that starts with an eviction," said Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic in a news release.

According to that release, Dimitrijevic's Housing Opportunities and Minimizing Evictions for Stabilization (HOMES) legislation employs a three part strategy of prevention, mitigation, and legal representation: a full-time staff person dedicated to working with landlords and tenants to prevent eviction, a Housing Stabilization Fund to help tenants bridge the financial gap that often leads to eviction proceedings, and sufficient resources to double the capacity of the Eviction Defense Project, a legal services clinic operated by Legal Action, Inc. at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

“I’d like to thank Sup. Dimitrijevic for her leadership in helping Milwaukee County residents stay in stable housing, even if they hit a rough patch. The HOMES program is one part of our countywide efforts to address our housing needs – a challenge we can tackle when we work together,” said County Executive Chris Abele in the release.

According to the release, long-term funding for the HOMES program will be generated by the sale of county-owned foreclosed properties through the Opportunity Knocks program.  The Housing Division's Opportunity Knocks program provides skills development for inmates at the House of Corrections, who will rehab foreclosed homes prior to their sale.

The release notes that about 13,000 evictions are filled in Milwaukee County each year. Fewer than one percent of tenants facing eviction in the county are represented by counsel, compared to 50 percent of landlords.