Filings are expected to increase after the federal ban on evictions expires Oct. 3.
To help residents, Milwaukee County Supervisor David Crowley signed “Right to Counsel Milwaukee” into law on July 19. This pilot program provides free legal representation to anyone facing eviction or foreclosure.
Supervisor Ryan Clancy authored the legislation. United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County and the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee are the lead organizations for the program, which launched Sept. 1.
We spoke to Colleen Foley, the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, to answer questions about the program.
What does the program do?
The Right to Counsel pilot program provides an advocate to help tenants identify and evaluate legal rights and obligations. They plan to help by linking both landlords and tenants to available funding, negotiating disputes and accessing wraparound services.
The goal is to decrease eviction filings and significantly reduce the public costs associated with the court, criminal justice and human service system response to evictions. Ultimately, the program ensures that the legal system works in a fair and just manner and that no one side dominates.
Is the program available to everyone?
No. Right To Counsel Milwaukee pilot program is for Milwaukee County residents at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. That would be $25,760 a year for one person and $53,000 for a family of four.
Who is responsible for the program?
United Way provides administrative leadership, including fundraising, communications and outreach, while the Legal Aid Society will provide legal advice, representation and community legal education. Legal Aid has hired 10 new lawyers, two paralegals and two intake specialists for the project and is developing a robust subcontract for additional attorney staffing from Legal Action of Wisconsin.
How can people make this process easier for themselves?
1. You can call the now live hotline at (414) 892-7368 and you can use the website to get in contact with them.
2. Have information ready in advance. Applicants will be asked to provide the following information during the application process:
- Eviction summit/complaint
- A copy of your lease if you have it.
- Be prepared to discuss your monthly income and other financial information
Is there anything else people should know?
Remember that a vast majority of court hearings are still taking place virtually, so you will have to find access if you don’t have it. This is something you’ll have help with from the program.
Who can I call for financial or legal help if I’m 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
- Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin: 414-276-7378
We’re here for you, too
Need more information? Text “MKE” to 73224 to connect with a reporter.