Yesterday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reissued a limited moratorium on evictions. The new order comes just a few days after the federal government’s initial eviction moratorium expired.
Concurrently with the new order, Madison’s common council approved a measure to provide about $16 million in rental aid to county residents.
The CDC’s new moratorium, which is in effect until early October, is only applicable to communities that are experiencing “substantial” or “high” rates of community transmission of the coronavirus.
Last Friday, the CDC bumped Dane County’s transmission rate from “moderate” to “substantial” — meaning that the moratorium locally is back on. But, the moratorium will end if the county drops below a “high” rate of community transmission for at least 14 consecutive days.
Heidi Wegleitner is a Dane County supervisor and attorney with Legal Action of Wisconsin. She says the new rules further complicate a process that was already difficult to navigate.
“If our condition improves for 14 consecutive days, and we’re no longer at the “substantial” rate for 14 consecutive days, the order will no longer apply,” Wegleitner says. “However, if there’s a day where we do reach that level again, then the order’s back in effect. It makes a confusing order even more challenging for the public to understand…These levels are constantly being monitored and these maps are constantly being updated in terms of community spread.
To qualify for eviction protection and rental aid, residents will need to complete a number of steps.
Both Dane County and the City of Madison are currently working with the Tenant Resource Center to help residents navigate the process. But, Dane County is set to transfer many of their rental aid operations to local non-profit Urban Triage in the near future.
Wegleitner says that, while that transition is being completed, both agencies are available to help housing insecure residents.
Says Wegleitner: “The order does not cancel rent, you still owe rent and it needs to be paid. But, the good news is that there is a lot of money in the community to help people get caught up on rent. The agency that has that money is the Tenant Resource Center… Urban Triage will also be administering assistance next month, once they get their program up and running. Right now Urban Triage is helping people apply at various locations in the community to help get this assistance.”
Shortly after the CDC re-issued the eviction moratorium, the City of Madison approved an additional $16 million in emergency rental aid for county residents.
The measure was approved by Madison’s common council at its meeting yesterday. This is the second major cash infusion for the program — back in January, the city and county jointly allocated $16.2 million for the rental aid initiative.
Linette Rhodes, Madison’s Community Development Grant supervisor, says that the new round of money will provide continued funding while the city and county move into the next phase of the project.
“Back in January, both the city of Madison and Dane County received a direct allocation from the U.S. Treasury of emergency rental assistance,” Rhodes says. “The city and county then formed the current program — the Dane CORE program — which is operated by the Tenant Resource Center. The state of Wisconsin also provided some funding from the first round of emergency rental assistance. The state got about $332 million of emergency rental assistance, so they are providing the city with another round of assistance — the additional $16 million — so that we can ensure that the Dane CORE program has adequate funding to continue processing applications.”
Speaking with WORT ahead of the council’s vote, Tenant Resource Center Executive Director Robin Sereno said the resolution also allows the Center to provide free legal counsel to undocumented residents facing eviction.
Financial rental relief is available for undocumented Dane County residents — but finding legal aid to navigate the complex process can be a major hurdle for some. Sereno says that other housing aid organizations in Dane County largely aren’t able to provide legal help to undocumented folks.
“For the first time, we’ll have free services for folks regardless of immigration status,” Sereno says. “Largely, anybody who’s undocumented in Dane County, there’s no place for them to go unless they happen to find an attorney who will represent them for free.”
The new rental aid, and the re-issued CDC moratorium, come just a few days after the federal government’s prior eviction moratorium ended. Tenant advocacy groups have expressed concerns that permanently ending the eviction moratorium could instigate a national eviction crisis.
The new, limited CDC eviction moratorium is tentatively set to expire on October third.
For rental and eviction assistance from the Tenant Resource Center, click here: https://core.tenantresourcecenter.org/
For rental and eviction assistance from Urban Triage, click here: https://urbantriage.org/about/FAQs
Photo by Brian Standing for WORT-FM