The Social Development Commission has begun disbursing new housing assistance funds. Here’s what you need to know.

The Social Development Commission has been inundated with requests for housing assistance. (Photo by Adam Carr)

In late February, the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County received more than $28 million to provide new emergency rental assistance to struggling tenants.

the Social Development Commission, or SDC, received $17.6 million of that amount to help city residents.

Since then, thousands of people have contacted the SDC asking for help.

Eligible applicants must be an adult Wisconsin resident whose household income is at or below 80% of the county median income in the month or prior to the application date.

Once approved, eligible individuals can receive up to 15 months of assistance in the form of a combination of rent and/or security deposits. These payments will be made directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.

SDC officials say the organization has been inundated with requests and has a backlog of cases.

We spoke with SDC CEO George Hinton to answer questions about the process.

Here is what he said.

Is there anything new people should know about the application process?

Yes, everything has officially moved online. You can find everything you need to know about your application status through the application portal.

What are the eligibility criteria?

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must reside in the city of Milwaukee.
  • You must be eligible for unemployment or have suffered a significant reduction in income, incurred significant expenses, or experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • You must be at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing unstable housing.
  • You must have a household income at or below 80% of the Milwaukee County median income.

How long should people wait to hear about rental assistance now?

This application process is a little longer than those for the first two money pots. There are a few weeks of waiting on average.

What has changed in the application process?

More information is needed for the application. Here’s what it takes.

  • Applicant information: gender, race, ethnicity, social security number (if applicable), household size, date of birth, military status, and disability
  • Information about the rental property: address, type of lease (monthly, annual) and amount of rent
  • Owner information: name, address, phone number and email
  • Sources of income for all household members: salaries, SSI/SSDI, unemployment, etc.
  • Information and documentation on loss of income

Can I apply if I have received rental assistance in the past?

Yes. If you received rental assistance and still need it, you can reapply. However, SDC does not encourage people to apply through both SDC and Community Advocates. This can slow down your approval process.

How many people have you served so far?

Through the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program, SDC served 3,483 families, disbursing $6.2 million.

Through the Milwaukee Rental Assistance Program, SDC served 4,655 families, disbursing $13.2 million.

Through the Milwaukee Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which started to be disbursed at the end of April, about 100 applications have been processed so far, and more applications are being processed.

When you started in June 2020, there was a backlog of 24,000 names. How many are there now?

There are approximately 4,000 applications currently being processed, with more arriving every day. We assume the federal stimulus checks have helped slow the need, but the need is obviously still there.

In case you missed it: A federal judge overturns the moratorium on evictions. What does this mean for Milwaukee?

Resources to consult if you fear eviction

  • Community Advocates location helpline: 414-270-4646
  • Milwaukee Legal Aid Society: 414-727-5300
  • Mediate Milwaukee: 414-939-8800
  • Wisconsin Legal Action: 855-947-2529
  • Social Development Commission:414-906-2700
  • Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union: 414-410-9714

Joel C. Hicks