Tenant Resource Center has learned that the Director of Dane County Human Services has recommended cutting the Housing Help Desk services, which includes all housing vacancy information, our bilingual (Spanish) staff, housing counseling in Dane County outside the City of Madison and perhaps our mediation program. Please ask County Executive Joe Parisi and theCounty Board to restore the funding for these vital services by signing this online petition! For more information see our press release and our facebook event.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - THURSDAY, AUGUST 29, 2013
CONTACT: Brenda Konkel (608) 345-8720 or Anders Zanichkowsky (608) 257-0143
Proposed Cuts to Tenant Resource Center Budget Would Leave Over
4,500 Renters and 50 Agencies and Their Clients Without Services
In the midst of a rental housing crisis, Dane County Human Services Director Lynn Green has proposed eliminating
all funding for the Housing Help Desk and other services run by the Tenant Resource Center in her 2014 budget,
with no clear plan to spend that $95,000K on other programs. This decision couldn’t come at a worse time for Dane
County residents: The rental market has a historically low vacancy rate of 2% (national average 8.6%) and this fall
Wisconsin will see more tenant rights being removed for the third time in two years. TRC has had this contract for
15 years; it makes up 40% of TRC’s total budget and funds 100% of the Housing Help Desk office in the Dane
County Job Center, where 4,500+ mostly low-income renters get help finding and maintaining affordable housing
every year. The Housing Help Desk also publishes many free housing lists in its office and on its website, including
a weekly Housing Vacancy List that organizes 200-400 rental ads in Dane County. These valuable resources are
the only ones of their kind, used by thousands of renters and 50+ service providers and all their clients each month.
Without this funding, it would also mean an end to housing counseling outside the City of Madison and all of TRC’s
services in Spanish. TRC may also have to close the Dane County Housing Mediation Service which successfully
prevents 400 evictions each year, and if staff dwindles to three people we will not be able to leave the two offices
(1202 Williamson St and Campus) to do statewide Housing Law Seminars for landlords, service providers, and law
enforcement which brings in about $20,000 to the agency annually.
The reasons Green gave for the cuts focus on her misreading of a new pilot program the City of Madison has begun
with Community Action Coalition, which she claims will duplicate Housing Help Desk services. The coordinated
intake pilot project by CAC focuses on those who are already homeless, offering assessment and case
management to 200 people who have literally been homeless for fewer than 6 months; 400 others will be given
intake and referrals for their housing needs, many of them intended for the TRC’s Housing Help Desk if it remains
open. No agency is ready to replace the Housing Help Desk’s resources or has its in depth staff knowledge of
tenant/landlord law to help clients help themselves without case management, for example by learning how to get a
security deposit back so they don’t need financial assistance from another agency to move into a new apartment.
Green's proposal is the first step in the Dane County budget process. On Tuesday, September 3rd at 6pm at the
Alliant Energy Center in Mendota Room 1 of the Exhibition Hall, County Executive Joe Parisi will be holding a
listening session about the budget he will then propose to the County Board the first week in October. Comments
can also be submitted via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com.
At Tuesday’s Homeless Issues Committee meeting, they recommended that Parisi restore the funding to Tenant
Resource Center that is still in the department budget but listed as "TBD." They also unanimously recommended
with on abstention that because there has been a 10% increase in homelessness from 2011 to 2012 that they fund
vital homeless services, including but not limited to the day resource center and restrooms. They expressed
concern that we not pit the needs of persons without homes against the needs of low-income renters. To save the
Housing Help Desk, Joe Parisi has to reject Green’s proposal and accept the Committee’s recommendation or the
County Board would have to restore the funding in their budget that they vote on in November.