In late February, the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County received more than $28 million to provide new emergency rental assistance for struggling tenants.
The Social Development Commission, or SDC, was allocated $17.6 million of that amount to assist city residents.
Since then, thousands have contacted the SDC seeking help.
Eligible applicants must be an adult Wisconsin resident with a household income at or below 80 percent of the county median income in the month of or prior to the application date.
Once approved, eligible individuals may receive up to 15 months of aid in a combination of rental payments and/or security deposits. These payments will be paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.
SDC officials say the organization has been swamped with requests and has a backlog of cases.
We talked with George Hinton, the CEO of the SDC, to answer questions about the process.
Here is what he said.
Is there anything new that people should know about the application process?
Yes, everything has officially transferred online. You can find out anything you need to know about the status of your application through the application portal.
What are the eligibility criteria?
- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- You must reside in the City of Milwaukee.
- You must qualify for unemployment or have experienced a significant reduction in income, incurred significant costs, or experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- You must be at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing unstable housing.
- You must have a household income at or below 80% Milwaukee County Median Income.
How long should people wait to hear back about rent assistance now?
This application process is a little longer than the ones from the first two pots of money. There are a few weeks on average wait.
What has changed about the process of applying?
More information is required for the application. Here is what’s needed.
- Applicant Information: gender, race, ethnicity, social security number (if applicable), household size, date of birth, military and disability status
- Rental property information: address, lease type (month-to-month, annual) and rent amount
- Landlord information: name, address, phone number and email
- Income sources for all household members: earned wages, SSI/SSDI, unemployment, etc.
- Income loss information and documentation
Can I apply if I received rent assistance in the past?
Yes. If you have received rent assistance and are still in need you can reapply. However, SDC does no encourage people to apply through both SDC and Community Advocates. It can slow down your approval process.
How many people have you served so far?
Through the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program, SDC served 3,483 families, disbursing $6.2 million.
Through the Milwaukee Rental Assistance Program, SDC served 4,655 families, disbursing $13.2 million.
Through the Milwaukee Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which started being disbursed in late April, about 100 applications have been process so far, with more applications being processed.
When you started in June 2020, there was a backlog of 24,000 names. How many are there now?
There are about 4,000 applications being processed now, with more coming in every day. We assume the federal stimulus checks have helped slow the need, but the need is obviously still there.
In case you missed it: A federal judge strikes down the eviction moratorium. What does that mean for Milwaukee?
Resources to consult if you’re worried about eviction
- Community Advocates rent helpline: 414-270-4646
- Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee: 414-727-5300
- Mediate Milwaukee: 414-939-8800
- Legal Action of Wisconsin: 855-947-2529
- Social Development Commission:414-906-2700
- Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union: 414-410-9714