Eviction Defense Project Offers Hope To Renters

Volunteer Effort Underway In Milwaukee County To Help Renters Facing Eviction
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A program aimed at helping renters facing court-ordered evictions has begun in Milwaukee County.

The Eviction Defense Project hopes to help some of the thousands of renters facing eviction each year by providing free legal advice and representation in the courtroom through the Legal Action of Wisconsin office in the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Legal Action of Wisconsin will help to remedy conflict between landlords and low-income tenants at risk of being evicted.

Author and Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond documented last year that about 40 people a day in Milwaukee County face losing their home.

Losing a home often has a domino effect, said Raphael Ramos of Legal Action of Wisconsin.

"You know it's harder to find work if you don't have a place to live. Just the mental and physical stress of not having a place to live and having that specter of homelessness looming above you," can trigger other problems, Ramos said.

A group of volunteer attorneys for the Eviction Defense Project are seeing about 10 clients a day and go through possible settlement negotiations and draft documents.

Attorney Dave Cross said some of his clients have been laid off, have no savings and are relying on getting tax refunds this spring.

"If it weren't for that chunk of money coming in the door, some of them would really have no prospect of being able to catch up," Cross said.

Cross said if need be, Eviction Defense Project attorneys can join the renter in the courtroom during eviction order proceedings. But Cross said he and representatives of landlords often try to work things out before entering the courtroom.

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