MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Last night, Rep. Gwen Moore joined Opportunity Wisconsin and a group of Milwaukee residents to discuss the evictions crisis in Milwaukee County. Last month, President Trump allowed the federal evictions moratorium to expire, responding only with a toothless executive order that promised to “study” the issue. Fueled by this inaction, Milwaukee eviction rates are the highest in the nation, with evictions jumping 40% in June after the state moratorium expired.
Moderated by local Milwaukee activist Solana Patterson-Ramos, the roundtable discussion made clear that the eviction crisis does not fall evenly across the state. More than two-thirds of eviction filings struck Black neighborhoods, and Milwaukee has been rated the city with the lowest quality of life for African-Americans in the entire nation.
Some excerpts from the conversation:
“I have been homeless. I’ve known how it feels to have more month than money, and I am very enraged about the lack of action from Congress on this issue. I fear that amid the covid and the trauma of justice, the next thing is we’re going to see just loads of people’s personal things and their furniture on the street,” said Rep. Gwen Moore. “Meanwhile, President Trump, in order to put a fig leaf over their inaction, signed a worthless executive order directing regulators like the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the CDC to study whether the eviction moratorium was necessary, and to investigate instead of to provide the money.”
“With the moratorium on evictions coming to an end in late May, evictions rose about 40% in June, leaving many families with nowhere to go. Evictions are a very emotional and taxing process,” said Solana Patterson-Ramos. “You have to deal with the reality that you just received an eviction notice, then deal with the court proceedings, and if you are not able to come up with a payment arrangement or find a new place to live by the court ordered deadline, you then have to deal with your personal items being forcefully removed by law enforcement.”
“Right here locally, what we’re asking for is a moratorium to extend until there is some type of solution towards covid-19. People should not be forced out of their homes because of the covid-19 situation,” said Jacqueleen Clark of the Autonomous Tenants Union. “Right now, this is no fault of anyone [renter]. Losing a job is no fault of anyone. A moratorium should be in place, and that’s what the Autonomous Tenants Union is asking right here in the city of Milwaukee.”
“My husband went to the hospital May 9, he ended up passing away because of corona restrictions on June 14. From that point on, I was working, but my job ended on June 30. So I buried him on June 29, I’ve been looking for a job since July — even with him passing, I know that I have to provide for myself. I’ve been looking for a job for myself since July 9th and have been unsuccessful. As of this month, I owe my landlord $1,100 and he’s saying that as of September 11, he’s going to file a 5 day quit or pay against me which is going to result in an eviction notice,” shared LaToya White. “It’s really disgusting that you see a lot of billionaires getting bailed out, and a lot of people that have income getting bailed out, but for those of us that are struggling, that have lost their jobs because of this pandemic, it’s ‘you better figure it out.’”
“My husband is legally blind and I have 4 children. We were illegally evicted right at the end of the covid moratorium, with no writ. We were supposed to be out on the 31st. In less than 24 hours I had to move an entire house by myself because my husband is blind. The next day, I had help, so we came back to our property to get our belongings and our doors were locked,” said Nicole Liebe. “We have not been able to contact these landlords for 6 months. We saw movers outside, and I saw them moving our stuff, and I asked what was going on and he said they were moving our things. They did not put them on the curb for us to go through. They took our stuff to West Allis dump. I had personal property, couches, my kids’ beds, their bikes, Chromebooks for school. They didn’t give us the opportunity to go through anything.”