5,500 households in Madison considered ‘High Risk’ for eviction as moratorium expires

MADISON, Wis. – An estimated 5,500 households in the Madison area are considered ‘High Risk’ for eviction as the federal moratorium prepares to expire Saturday.

To prepare, Madison’s city council plans to ask for $15 million extra to devote to rent relief. To date, the city has helped more than 7,000 households, giving out nearly $11 million in the process. Madison’s Tenant Resource Center says its averaging $1.5 million in requests for relief each week. This week, the number has inflated to almost $3 million.

August is always the worst month for the city in general in terms of filings,” said Tenant Resource Center Executive Director Robin Sereno. “We see about 300 cases in a regular August, and obviously this is not a regular August. We’re anticipating a massive amount of filings- we’re already seeing an increase in the court calendar.”

As the case has been since relief began, many in need do not know assistance is available.

I think a lot of people are truly unaware that this rental assistance is out here,” Sereno said. “We still get on a daily basis people contacting us and saying I had no idea this was here.”

The resources are there,” said Jim O’Keefe with the City of Madison. “People just need to step forwards and take advantage of them.”

O’Keefe, who serves as the city’s community development director, says a number of factors, including a complicated application, have led to people not applying.

The new federal legislation was very different than that from a year ago,” he said. “Last year, the rental assistance program was a much more straightforward and simple one. This one has come with a lot more requirements, documentation needed. It’s taken time for renters and landlords to adjust to that.”

Sereno says the Tenant Resource Center is bracing for applications as the moratorium expires.

If you get a (eviction) notice, please don’t leave,” she said. “Give us a call. Check out your rights, apply. Let’s get that bill paid down.”