How to get rental assistance in Wisconsin

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If I haven’t applied yet, am I still eligible and what help can I get? 

Yes. Eligible applicants may receive up to 15 months of aid in a combination of rental payments and/or security deposits. These payments will be paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant. To apply, applicants must:

Be an adult Wisconsin resident; assistance does not require that a recipient be a legal resident of the United States.Have a household income at or below 80% of the county median income in the month of or prior to the application date and experienced financial hardship or significant costs due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.Be at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing unstable housing.

How do I apply?

There are two programs in Milwaukee:

Community Advocates serves Milwaukee and Waukesha counties and can be reached online or at 414-270-4646. You can also pick up and drop off a hard copy application at their office at 728 North James Lovell St. in Milwaukee from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Waukesha County residents can pick up and drop off hard copy applications at these sites.The Social Development Commission (SDC) serves the city of Milwaukee and can be reached online or at 414-906-2700. You can also head to their main office at 1730 West North Ave. in Milwaukee to get in-person help with your application.

If you do not live in Milwaukee County, there are other agencies that can help you.

The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) coordinates the program through its member agencies. Most agencies offer online applications, but some instruct applicants to send an email requesting a WERA application. Apply at the agency that serves your county, as outlined below: 

ADVOCAP, serving Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Winnebago counties.CAP Services, serving Marquette, Portage, Outagamie, Waupaca and Waushara counties. Central Wisconsin Community Action Council, serving Adams, Columbia, Dodge. Juneau and Sauk counties (email Action Inc., serving Rock and Walworth counties.Couleecap, serving Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties. Energy Services, Inc., serving Jefferson, Ozaukee and Washington counties. Lakeshore CAP, serving Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties. Newcap, serving Florence, Forest, Oneida, Langlade, Marinette, Menominee, Ocanto, Shawano and Vilas counties.North Central Community Action Program, serving Lincoln, Marathon, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor and Wood counties (email Community Services Agency, serving Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, Iron and Price counties (email Kenosha Community Action Agency, serving Racine and Kenosha counties.Southwestern Community Action Program, serving Grant, Green, Iowa, Lafayette and Richland counties.West CAP, serving Barron, Burnett, Chippewa, Dunn, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, St. Croix and Washburn counties (email Dairyland Economic Opportunity Council, serving Buffalo, Clark, Eau Claire, Jackson and Trempealeau counties (email 

If you live in Brown, Dane and Waukesha counties and the city of Madison, here’s where renters there can go: 

Newcap serves Brown County’s and can be reached at 800-242-7334. Tenant Resource Center serves Madison and surrounding Dane County. It can be reached online or at 608-257-0006.

To apply you must provide the following information and documentation:

Driver’s license or state ID.Documentation of income you receive.Proof of financial hardship (including loss of employment, reduced hours of employment and an applicant or other adult in household not working in order to supervise virtual learning). Eviction notice or arrears statement.

If I’m in Milwaukee, should I apply to both SDC and Community Advocates?

SDC and Community Advocates have recommended against applying to both programs, because it would add to the backlog of cases still needing to be processed by the agencies. Representatives of the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union, however, have recommended that residents apply to all programs they are eligible for because one application could be processed much faster than the other.

Am I eligible if I am undocumented, a non-citizen or have no Social Security number?

Rental assistance funds come from the federal government, and Congress left eligibility open to non-citizens — including those who lack Social Security numbers or are undocumented. Neither states nor local governments may impose their own immigration restrictions in lieu of the federal government, according to a National Housing Law Project fact sheet.

Wisconsin residents can apply for rental assistance as long as they meet income-related requirements.

Applicants will not be asked about their immigration status at any point during the process.

Accepting rental assistance should not harm an immigrant’s application for legal status under the concept of the “public charge,” legal experts say.

What do I do if my application is still pending and my landlord still hasn’t received payment?

Try asking the organization you applied to for an update. 

If you’re a Milwaukee resident struggling to get a hold of a representative, contact the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union at 414-410-9714 or via email to speak with volunteers who can directly reach out to their contacts at either SDC or Community Advocates. 

Alternatively you can contact us, News414, by texting “MKE” to 73224. For Spanish, text “MKEESP” to 73224. We will try to connect you with the right folks to get an update on your application and any other information you might need.

Who else can I contact for help?

Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee: 414-727-5300Mediate Milwaukee: 414-939-8800Legal Action of Wisconsin: 855-947-2529Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union: 414-410-9714

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