Need for rental assistance grows as Dane County issues funding

In just two weeks, more than 4,000 Dane County renters have applied for help to pay their bills.

Many are still hurting as the pandemic continues. Some still aren't back to work yet, because they face another month of rent due on July 1.

"COVID has impacted people on many levels, particularly economically for a lot of people," said County Executive Joe Parisi. "A lot of people are at risk for eviction, so along with all of the public health guidance we give and all of the work that we do to keep people from getting sick from COVID, we're also focused very intensely on helping people who are suffering from the economic impacts of this virus outbreak."

The county created a $10 million eviction prevention fund to reach those most in need. Tenant Resource Center is processing the applications.

Executive Director Robin Sereno tells 27 News the program has issued more than $3 million to landlords so far, to hold off evictions for about 7,500 people. $5 million more is pending right now.

TRC staff members are prioritizing those who are most in need.

"After 3-4 months of this, of being without work, and just really that desperate, desperate need," Sereno said. "There's not a morning that I come in that I'm not met with somebody in the parking lot, or walking up, asking me if I can please help them with their application."

Of those who've applied, 78.9 percent are minority renters and 73.3 percent are women. 1,550 of the 3,377 applications that came in as of June 29 were for families facing the possibility of homelessness.

Single black mothers have been the majority of those who've asked TRC for help in the past 20 years, according to Sereno.

Even with the help available, Sereno says the need is growing. Renters still facing job losses have no way out.

"People have been laid off or furloughed for so long, or just terminated from their employment. Now, as their leases are coming up, they're not being renewed, which means they have this notice that they have 30 days to find a new place and it's impossible to find a new place when you have zero income," Sereno said.

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