Eviction and the fear of eviction affect thousands of Dane County residents every year. Certain populations, like black women with children, are especially vulnerable. One community activist is using a crowdfunding campaign to help Madisonians stay in their homes.
Brandi Grayson has raised $15,000 over the past year to help black women avoid eviction or find housing. And, unlike many nonprofits, she’s doing it all online.
With her Eviction Prevention for Black Women campaign, she’s already helped 25 families and 60 kids with costs that have threatened their housing status.
Now, she’s on her fourth campaign.
Grayson herself has struggled with housing costs, even when she was working a steady job at a nonprofit and making above the county’s definition of a living wage, which is $13 an hour.
Grayson says, “I live in affordable housing and my rent is $1,100. That’s not very affordable. I moved out of the house that I was living in for 10 years because I needed to decrease my expenses. I have three kids, so $1,100 is a lot. That’s not really affordable housing.
Grayson is $1,000 shy of her goal to help six more families. She says low wages have put those families in a position where they’re either homeless or facing an eviction. “All the families actually are single moms who are working multiple jobs and/’or working and attending school. As we know, most families in the Dane county area, even if they work 40 – 60 hours a week do not make sustainable wages.”
One of the families Grayson is looking to help with this campaign became homeless last summer. The mother of three children was displaced after missing work when her daughter suffered from a mental health crisis.
Grayson says she now has a job and housing, and the money raised from this fundraising effort will go toward her security deposit. An emergency assist grant helped pay her first month’s rent.
Grayson says that’s the case with many of the families she helps. When folks reach out to her, she helps them connect with community resources like the Dane County Job Center or the tenant resource center. “The funds that we raise is like the last piece of money that they need to be okay. We have to remember that the rent in Madison is really expensive. So, even for a two or three bedroom, most of our parents, our families, are paying between $1,000 and $1,500 a month. And most of them are making between $15 and $20 an hour, and after taxes and insurance, each check that they bring home is between $800 and $900 maybe every two weeks.
A recent UW Madison study found that, on average, there’s 2,500 eviction cases per year in Dane County. That’s nearly 7 eviction cases every day. Grayson says it’s not just minimum wage workers who worry about eviction.
Grayson’s channeling fundraising through her GoFundMe page, Eviction Prevention 4 Black Women.