What the legal challenge to eviction moratorium could mean for Wisconsin

A challenge to the CDC's moratorium on evictions is making its way through the courts.
A challenge to the CDC's moratorium on evictions is making its way through the courts.(WEAU)
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 5:57 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -A federal judge ruled last week the CDC doesn’t have the power to stop evictions even during a public health crisis.

Despite that ruling in the case of the Alabama Association of Realtors vs. the department of Health and Human Services, the moratorium is still in place.

By the time it makes its way through the courts, it may no longer matter.

“It’s entirely possible that it will become moot before it’s ever decided on appeal,” said Kristin Slonski, the Director of Litigation for Wisconsin Judicare.

Slonski has seen cases take their time through the court system. The challenge to the CDC’s moratorium on evictions is no exception.

“Appeals courts and Supreme Court work on their own timeline, and they don’t answer to you or me,” Slonski said. “It could take a while, and it could take further than the expiration by force of time for the C-D-C’s moratorium in the first place.”

The CDC’s order is set to end June 30th and Slonski said another extension seems unlikely.

Despite the order, evictions haven’t stopped.

Slonski’s seen people lose housing because landlords won’t renew a lease or homes become unlivable as some landlords can’t or choose not to make major repairs.

Slonski said the best way to avoid an eviction is to work with your nearest community action program to get rental assistance.

For Eau Claire and surrounding counties, that’s the Western Dairyland Economic Opportunity Council.

“The economic damage done is going to linger for years and years, so we’re happy we have this current amount of funding, and we’re able to help hundreds and hundreds of local families, but we know the impact of this will be around for years,” said Dale Karls, the communications coordinator for Wisconsin Dairyland EOC.

Karls said they’ve been able to give out more than $1.3 million in rental assistance since the latest round of funding in February.

That’s helped more than 380 families in five counties.

Western Dairyland’s CEO Anna Cardarella said more funding is still available and a recent change to eligibility guidelines means more people can get help.

“The requirements for the program had to be that you had to have an income loss or financial hardship due to COVID, now it’s you have to have a financial hardship during COVID, so it can be interpreted in many different ways,” Cardarella said.

The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program (WERA) will continue until funding runs out or until December.

It can help with up to 15 months of past or future rent.

To find out more about WERA, click HERE.

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