Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center
The MKE RHRC includes 9 co-partner agencies and a broader advisory network of over 25 cross-sector partners.
Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin
City of Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services
Legal Action of Wisconsin
Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee
Milwaukee County Housing Division
UEDA provides convening & administrative support.
- MKE RHRC 2021 Accomplishments & Outcomes
- NLC blog (2021): How Milwaukee Built a “Front Door” to Eviction Prevention Services
- Wisconsin Policy Forum 2018 report “No Place Like Home”
- Matthew Desmond’s 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Evicted
The Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center (MKE RHRC) emerged in early 2020 as a collaborative effort to connect tenants and landlords to trusted resources in order to prevent evictions and improve housing stability.
In 2018, the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin funded a project through the City of Milwaukee and CommonBond Communities, which brought together a diverse set of stakeholders from the public, nonprofit, and private sectors to form the Eviction Prevention Task Force.
The task force worked with the Wisconsin Policy Forum and identified a series of recommendations to address the impact of evictions. In 2019 UEDA was asked to continue convening the group and help move the work forward.
Goals & Challenges:
- Provide a “one-stop shop” to reduce frustration and confusion for renters and property owners as they navigate housing issues.
- Provide trusted information to the public on key rental housing issues.
- Help households maintain safe and stable housing.
- Increase the capacity of rental housing and other service providers through collaboration and leveraging resources.
- In 2021, just over 8,000 evictions were filed in Milwaukee County, with most of these filings (~90%) in the City of Milwaukee.
- Milwaukee’s 2021 eviction filing rate was 3.84%. While significantly lower than 2019 (i.e., pre-pandemic), eviction still affects too many families and children.
- The population of Milwaukee is 38% African American, with a 25% poverty rate. However, the combined population of the 10 neighborhoods with the highest eviction rates is 73% African American and has a 40% poverty rate.
- Rental cost burden and the negative impacts of eviction disproportionately affect Milwaukee’s communities of color.
- Renters and property owners struggle to navigate resources & systems that can help stabilize housing and prevent eviction.
- Service providers in other systems including healthcare and workforce development also lack the capacity and resources to assist their clients with housing issues.
- Address the root causes of housing instability by working across sectors to prevent evictions.
- Directly engage property owners, renters, and housing advocates to identify strategies to prevent eviction.
- Establish a comprehensive referral network to increase access to resources that prevent eviction such as rent payment assistance, mediation, legal services, and help finding affordable housing and relocation assistance.
- MKE RHRC co-partners serve as local experts on rental housing issues, helping to connect other community partners to these resources.
What We're Learning:
- The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent Federal relief programs have provided a unique opportunity to address rental housing instability from a systems perspective.
- By promoting tools such as rent payment assistance and a mediation first approach, we can decrease the reliance on eviction filing to resolve housing disputes.
- Along with being able to afford available rental housing, people also need assistance with finding affordable housing options.
- Low vacancy rates have a significant impact on the ability of service providers to assist clients with relocation needs.
- Our ability to reduce evictions requires us to focus both on pre-filing efforts (education, outreach, mediation, financial assistance) and post-filing strategies (mediation, court processes, legal representation, financial assistance).
- There is an inadequate supply of truly affordable housing and this must be addressed at a policy level.
- In early 2021 the Center launched with a virtual & physical presence to begin serving renters and property owners.
- The website had over 25,000 visitors in its first 6 months and 5,300+ interactions through its tenant and landlord forms.
- Secured initial funding to support the Center and built Triage Team staff to serve as the “front door” and provide direct assistance to renters, property owners, and community partners.
- Helped promote and facilitate the distribution of over $61.1 million in temporary rent payment assistance to more than 5,900 unique households in partnership with Community Advocates and Social Development Commission.
- We developed five educational resources, including eviction diversion fliers placed in courts, multilingual outreach postcards, and blog posts targeted towards renters and property owners.
- The MKE RHRC has been featured in 30+ media impressions and acknowledged as a best practice by the National League of Cities.