How renters are being looked after during tough times

Rental managers say it's better to reach out sooner rather than later
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 9:12 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Thanks to extra unemployment benefits and the federal stimulus package, renters have largely been able to survive the initial months of the COVID19 pandemic. But, those extra benefits come to an end and eviction moratoriums expire at the end of the month.

As COVID19 cases are on the rise in many states, including Wisconsin, it adds more uncertainty to the economy and the job market, and many people who rent face a shaky future.

Unemployment is still high in Wisconsin, and the latest numbers from the state's department of workforce development show regular initial claims for benefits were close to five times higher last week than the same week one year ago.

The loss of income has hit hard for those in the Chippewa Valley who are unable to pay their rent, as noticed by one rental operations manager, Mary Proznik, Rentals Operations Manager at Riverbend told WEAU,

“We have a lot of renters that work service industry, they were laid off, they didn’t get their unemployment checks in time, they had no income coming in”.

This is not a new problem for the Western Dairyland Economic Opportunity Council. But, this time there is a difference.

“The COVID pandemic has really just made everything so much worse and it’s caused problems for so many more families,”

Said Dale Karls, Western Dairyland Communications Coordinator,

"We have never received so many phone calls from people who need rental assistance before".

With times being tough, rental companies are working to make sure people aren't shut out of their homes.

“We reached out to the owners that we manage for and asked them how accommodating can you be? And they were all more than willing to be helpful,” Proznik said.

Proznik also says this help has even included setting renters up with payment arrangements.

"We tried the hardest we possibly could to make sure they could stay in their homes and so far so good".

Recently, Western Dairyland EOC announced a new federally funded program for those who need additional relief.

Karls says it's only been going on for a month and 600 households have already been placed on the list for support.

But the program is temporary. They are expecting the money to run out in October.

Rental managers want you to know it’s all right to reach out for help, Proznik said,

“Some people think its embarrassing and its hard but just remember everyone is struggling, no matter what your income level is, everyone has been impacted by this some way shape or form, there’s no shame in that, we get it,”

If you think you’ll need rental assistance, don’t wait, and if you’re worried you might not be able to pay rent, it’s best to reach out to your landlord sooner rather than later.

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