The City of Milwaukee will face a punishing fallout from Berrada Properties Management’s recent deluge of evictions.
That fallout will mean not just pain for the families affected but will impact neighborhoods, agencies that deal with displaced families and the need for funding as those evicted scramble to get roofs over their heads.
This domino effect from Berrada’s evictions was the focus Wednesday of the Common Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee, which met virtually to discuss anti-eviction strategies.
The consensus: There will be pain ahead and a pressing need for various agencies and the city to deal with the aftershocks.
In January, Berrada Properties Management Inc., a landlord with thousands of rental units across the city, filed about 1,000 eviction cases in a matter of weeks, pushing the caseload above pre-pandemic levels.
Earlier, an attorney for Berrada told Milwaukee CBS affiliate WDJT-TV (Channel 58) that the firm had to act.
“Berrada Properties Management, Inc. has gone to great lengths to work with tenants who want to pay their rent and can’t – including creating an eviction diversion program – but unfortunately some tenants have not sought the help available and left us no choice,” said Joe Goldberger, Berrada’s attorney.
He said many tenants had incurred balances of unpaid rent of as much as $17,000.
Colleen Foley, the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, an organization that provides legal assistance to residents in need, said the filings have systemic ramifications that have and will affect everything from emergency rental assistance to the judicial system and shelters in coming months.
The Legal Aid Society continues to run its new program, Eviction Free MKE, providing legal services to Milwaukeeans facing evictions.
The Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center, a collaborative designed to provide assistance and resources to both landlords and tenants, will also step in.
District 6 Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs said she put the eviction issue on the committee’s agenda because evictions are now even more a key priority due to Berrada’s recent actions. This, she said, affects large numbers of families and disrupts neighborhoods.
Coggs said the city has received significant American Rescue Plan or ARPA, funds to assist those who have been evicted.
“It’s important for the council to receive an update of where we are at in the city with evictions – as well as outcomes – from the organizations that are supposed to be helping residents deal with eviction,” she said.
According to LaToya Jones, the business service manager at the Social Development Commission, her agency has disbursed seven percent, or about $3 million, of the commission’s funds since 2020 to Berrada Properties in the form of rental assistance.
Community Advocates has disbursed a large portion of its rental assistance funds to Berrada as well.
“When we are providing service, we are providing to the tenant that needs our help,” said Maudwella Kirkendoll the chief operating officer for Community Advocates.
Committee members said they now understand that evictions will need to be a topic of discussion for future meetings.
“The onslaught has not fully started yet. As time goes on, we will see more individuals in unique situations,” said Steven Mahan, director of the Community Development Grants Administration, a city department. “We need to be flexible and ready to move with additional funds as things progress.”
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: 414-278-7722
- Social Development Commission: 414-906-2700
- Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union: 414-410-9714
- Rental Housing Resource Center: (414) 449-4777
- Eviction Free MKE: 414-892-7368