Hi, Everyone. Tough news today - the TRC is facing funding cuts at the Dane County level. Our county funding has been awarded to a different agency, and we believe we are the best agency to provide these services. We really, really need your help.
These cuts would mean:
- The TRC would no longer run the Housing Help Desk.
- The TRC would no longer do eviction mediation in Small Claims Court to help anyone living outside the City of Madison, but inside Dane County (such as Fitchburg, Stoughton, Sun Prairie).
- The TRC would no longer give any housing counseling to anyone living outside the City of Madison, but inside Dane County.
This is so frustrating because this funding process has been so very far from transparent!
- The budget is incredibly opaque! You can't tell there's even been a change in funding in the budget, but trust us, it's buried in there. (Explanation here, on Brenda Konkel's personal blog)
- The evaluations between the proposals aren't being shared until after the contracts have been signed! That means that no-one can correct any misunderstandings or dispute any fallacies while it still matters. (Explanation here, again on Brenda's blog).
This really stings because we raise our own funds every year to provide these services! While most agencies ask for 17% in overhead, we eat $30,000 every year, just to be able to continue to provide these services at the Housing Help Desk. It's because we really believe in this work! We really believe that our clients deserve this help, and we really believe that all the other agencies who would try to do it just wouldn't be able to help these clients in the way that they truly need.
But why are we the best at this? We believe we have the broadest knowledge and longest history of working with these clients (35 years of history!). We know, from our long experience, what works for which clients, what are the best ways to get them to the outcomes they are hoping for. While most agencies require appointments, our staff is committed to being truly available to clients, with walk-in hours at all our locations, no appointments needed. But even more than this, we are the only HUD-approved housing counseling agency in Dane County who talks to tenants about tenant-landlord law (the other agency that vied for this funding is not HUD-approved, neither for homeless services nor rental housing counseling). Beyond that, we are the ones that social workers here in Dane County call when they have a question, when they want to know what to do when their client is in trouble with their landlord, and where, if all else fails, that client can sleep tonight. We get calls from attorneys; we teach seminars statewide for police officers, sheriffs, social workers, public housing managers. We've happily invite anyone to test their knowledge against the knowledge of our staff. What we want is the best for our clients. We think they deserve it.
What we need from you:
- Please go to the hearing and testify. Tell them why you believe that the TRC is the right organization to do this job. The hearings are on September 1 from 5:30– 7 p.m. at the Fitchburg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Rd., Fitchburg, and on September 2 from 5:30 - 7 p.m. at the Westside Community Service Building, 2598 W. Main St, Sun Prairie.
- Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and County_Board_Recipients@countyofdane.com, and tell them why you believe that the TRC is the right organization to do this job.
- Save the date! The bigger budget listening session on Human Services will be September 16th (as far as we know)
- If you want to help remove the TRC's dependence on insecure funding, then please consider donating.
What is the Housing Help Desk? The Housing Help Desk (HHD) is a TRC office that is staffed by impressively compassionate and committed TRC staff members (not me, though I used to work out there). The HHD is the place through which almost all county-wide requests for emergency housing go, and we direct clients (mostly low-income and desperate) to subsidized housing, to affordable housing, to shelters, and try and help them resolve their impressively high barriers to housing. The HHD supports the work of social workers and helping professionals county-wide, who need to figure out where their clients might live sustainably, and meanwhile, where they might spend the night. We serve approximately 1 client every 6 minutes that we have a staff member present in the office, to unravel and educate around significant barriers to housing, such as credit history, abuse, disabilities, and lack of income.
What is the Housing Mediation Service?
The Housing Mediation Service provides eviction mediation services before and during small claims eviction court hearings in Dane County. A court-enforceable agreement (or "stipulation") can be reached through mediation and filed with the court. These agreements are typically either payment plans that allow the tenant to remain in the apartment or move-out dates that enable the tenant to secure alternate housing. If the terms of the agreement are met, the tenant will not have an eviction on his or her court record. Mediated agreements have the same enforceability as those written by the court commissioner. Housing Mediation Service volunteer mediators have received professional mediation training
What is Housing Counseling?
As housing counselors, we give free information on tenant-landlord rights and responsibilities to tenants and landlords statewide who call, email or drop by our offices. We have sample letters, forms and brochures on most major topics. We give informative presentations around Wisconsin, are available for media interviews and participate in community coalitions. And so, so much more.