‘If you’re behind in your rent, please apply’: Rental assistance program applications open for Dane County residents

MADISON, Wis. – New help is available for Dane County residents struggling to pay their bills because of the pandemic.

Online applications are now open for the Dane CORE emergency rental assistance program, a partnership between Dane County, the city of Madison, and the Tenant Resource Center. It will distribute $15 million in new federal funds to help renters in need.

“We want to focus those dollars on people in trouble, who are way behind on rent, who are facing the threat of eviction,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said. “This is a grant. This is not a loan, so folks, if you need help, if you’re behind in your rent, please apply for this. We want to help as many people as we can.”

Tenants and their landlords will need to cosign their applications. Both can apply online here at the Tenant Resource Center’s website.

“In the first few hours of it being live, there were over 1,300 applications,” Parisi said.

A program in the county last year provided about $11 million for eviction relief, Parisi said, but the need continues. He said the Tenant Resource Center got about $30 million in rental assistance requests last summer. He estimates the community-wide need is now likely more than that.

The Dane CORE program can cover up to 12 months of past-owed rent for tenants from the beginning of the pandemic in March of last year. Parisi hopes it can have an immediate impact.

“Particularly for folks behind in rent, and for landlords,” he said. “At least landlords will know help is on the way.”

In Middleton, city leaders sent out the rental assistance program information to their residents.

Mayor Gurdip Brar said his heart goes out to those who are without jobs or whose work is no longer paying the bills, such as restaurant workers and musicians.

“It is hitting those people very hard,” Brar said. “A lot of those jobs are just gone.”

In Middleton, a city full of much emptier-than-normal restaurants and hotels, Brar knows rent demands haven’t gone anywhere.

“As a city of Middleton, we don’t really have a program where we can give any direct rental assistance,” he said.

That’s why he’s excited about the program helping eligible tenants throughout Dane County.

“It raises their hope,” Brar said.

Parisi is hopeful more state and federal funds will be forthcoming to help with past-due rent.