A new tool, EvictionFreeMKE.orgis offering Milwaukee residents the opportunity to connect with free legal help, rental assistance and other resources to reduce evictions.
The new tool comes months after Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley signed a historic bill that established a Right to Counsel program in Milwaukee County.
That program provides residents facing eviction the right to a free lawyer. This new tool helps connect people with those lawyers.
Partners involved in creation of the tool include United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Legal Action of Wisconsinthe City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.
The tool is part of the United Way’s Safe and Stable Homes initiative, said Krystina Kohler, a financial stability portfolio manager at United Way. The initiative is meant to end family homelessness in the four counties — Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha and Washington — served by the organization.
A lack of legal representation has been a regular feature of Milwaukee’s eviction courts, Matthew Desmond highlighted in his 2016 book “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.” His research found that only 3% of tenants appearing in eviction court had legal representation.
Kohler said he is hoping the three-year pilot will help reduce the 13,000 annual eviction filings that occur in Milwaukee.
“We found that when we provided free lawyers to tenants, their eviction cases were dismissed or delayed in about 90% of cases in Milwaukee,” Kohler said.
Kohler also noted that sometimes landlords won’t even attempt mediation and instead, go straight to filing