MOM's Housing Stabilization Program Adapts to Meet Needs During COVID
The past year has brought lots of changes—and that has definitely been true for MOM and our programs. You can read about the changes that have occurred in our Food Pantry here. We have also seen changes in our Housing Stabilization Program.
Part of MOM’s mission is to prevent homelessness. We strive to keep people in their homes, preventing eviction and the trauma of homelessness. Case managers work with clients who live in our service area who are struggling to pay rent. We provide rent assistance as well as help with utilities and other limited expenses including car repairs or prescription co-pays. Case managers also work with landlords to help resolve difficult situations and connect households to other agencies or resources in the community that can help them achieve their goal of stability. In addition, clients gain access to our food pantry and other MOM programs including our Back to School program which provides school supplies. This additional help relieves pressure for families, allowing them to focus limited funds on paying rent.
Even before COVID, our community was experiencing an affordable housing shortage. Nearly half of Dane County’s renters were cost-burdened, meaning they spent more than 30% of their income on housing. COVID introduced new challenges. When lockdowns first began in the spring of 2020, many families lost income and were unable to pay rent. By August, 27% of renters in Wisconsin were behind on rent. Eviction moratoriums have prevented many evictions but have not solved the problem. The moratoriums don’t cover everyone and even those who are covered remain accountable for eventually paying back rent. As people returned to work, regaining stability remained difficult for some people in our community as they tried to recover from initial setbacks while experiencing ongoing challenges including sick family members and managing kids doing virtual school at home.
Thanks to the support of our generous community, we were able to step in to help some families bridge the gap. With funds raised during the spring and summer, we created an emergency COVID fund, allowing us to provide additional support beyond our normal rent assistance to help families who had specifically been impacted by COVID. Through our normal Housing Stabilization Program and our COVID fund, we gave out approximately 50% more in rental assistance to neighbors in our community than we had the year before.
As the COVID pandemic begins to recede in Dane County, we feel a lot of hope for the future. We also recognize that for some, the journey to COVID recovery will be much longer. The past year has shed light on problems that already existed in our community, including structural racism and an affordable housing shortage. We look forward to continuing to work with you to address these problems in the future and help households on their journey to stability.
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