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As eviction moratorium expires, thousands in Wisconsin could lose their homes

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MADISON (WKOW) -- On Saturday, the federal freeze on evictions came to an end, leaving thousands of Wisconsin renters at risk of losing their homes.

The federal moratorium had protected renters who weren't able to pay rent due to financial hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The moratorium ending, it basically means that at any moment I could end up on the street," said Heather Waller, a renter who has relied on the moratorium for months now.

Waller said she has disabilities that prevent her from working fulltime. After the coronavirus pandemic, things only got worse.

Heather Waller is just one of thousands potentially facing eviction in Wisconsin in August. (Photo: Ward Jolles, WKOW)

"A lot of people have families," she said. "A lot of people, they just don't know what to do next."

In a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau on June 16, 16,000 renters said they were worried about possible eviction over the next couple of months, and agencies in Madison that offer rental assistance have been inundated with aid requests over the past week.

"It's basically picking the saddest story, unfortunately, and helping the families that need it the most," Jazzman Brown, CEO and Founder of Feeding the Youth, said.

Brown oversees the allocation process for those in need of rental assistance at Feeding the Youth, and she said the past week has been particularly challenging for her. Usually, the agency only gets five or so requests for rental assistance each month, but that number has skyrocketed since the beginning of the week.

"This month, as of Monday we actually had 13 [requests]," Brown said. "And as of ten minutes ago, we have 49."

While Brown and others can help in some cases, there's just not enough money to go around. She said of the 49 requests, the agency would likely only be able to honor 12.

Agencies providing rental assistance in Madison have seen skyrocketing numbers of aid requests over the past week.

Brown said the process of picking which families receive aid and which ones don't has been particularly tough on her over the past few days.

"It's definitely hard," Brown said. "As a mom reading these stories, I can't tell you how many times I've cried."

For renters like Waller, the uncertainty is nerve-racking.

"I don't know what tomorrow looks like," Waller said. "So my anxiety has been really severely bad just thinking about how I might not have a roof over my head."

The Wisconsin Department of Administration said it's offering rental assistance after the moratorium expires, and there's still plenty of funding available for households that qualify.

If you think you may qualify for rental assistance, you can find more information on the administration's website.

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Ward Jolles

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