COVID-19 Response - Tenant Resource Center



COVID-19 Response

Public health issues are deeply personal to us at the Tenant Resource Center. At this time, our offices are closed to the public but we are still providing all services related to Housing Counseling (we are answering all questions about WI Tenant-Landlord rights and responsibilities), Mediation (we provide free mediation between tenants and landlords to help sort out issues that may result in eviction), Eviction Prevention assistance (we have limited funds at this time to provide financial assistance to low income households). We are currently working with anyone in Dane County via call back service (call 608.257.0006 leave a message and we call back ASAP). Take a look below for information on our response to COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus). For more information about 'sheltering-in-place', please see the Governor's Safer at Home order click here.

We strongly encourage tenants to continue paying rent as you can. Not paying rent in Wisconsin is a legitimate reason to file for eviction. If you can not pay rent due to income lose, please communicate with your landlord ASAP. If you need assistance in how to have that conversation (and document it), please don't hesitate to call (608.257.0006) our Housing Counselors to help you navigate your situation. 

Please stay tuned to this page; updates will be posted as they happen.

Updated: March 24th, 2020


Our Services

Tenant Resource Center has suspended our walk-in services for Housing Counseling and Eviction Prevention BUT is still providing services via call back (call 608.257.0006 leave a message and we will return your call ASAP Monday thru Friday). Please see below for more information:

Housing Counseling & UW-Madison

Services at our UW-Madison office have been suspended due to facility closures on campus. For those seeking services from our Campus Office, please contact us at (608) 257-0006 or UW@TenantResourceCenter.org.

To reach us, please call (608) 257-0006.

Dane County Evictions

Dane County recently announced that many hearings and other court proceedings will be postponed or held via phone/video conference (see this Article for more information). While many reports note that all non-criminal cases have been rescheduled or postponed, be sure to communicate with the Dane County Clerk of Courts office or your legal counsel to confirm the arrangements and scheduling for your case. As a reminder, failure to appear for a hearing could result in a default judgement against you, so be sure to confirm dates and times for your court dates.

For individuals needing financial assistance or other eviction prevention services, please contact us at (608) 257-0006.


Iron Chef Fundraiser Postponed

Due to the recently declared pandemic surrounding COVID-19, the Tenant Resource Center has decided to postpone our Annual Iron Chef Fundraiser.

This was not an easy decision for us.In addition to being one of our favorite events, we know that we’re going to need your support now more than ever. However, given the nature of the event and the need to promote public health, we know that keeping this event as scheduled wouldn’t be responsible of us.

In the wake of COVID-19 we know that we’re going to need your support now more than ever. The issues are looming surrounding Housing Justice in our community and we’re gearing up for the next phase of this pandemic: large increases in evictions.

While some of us are able to work remotely, take paid time off, or draw on savings to help cover our costs during this health crisis, there are many more members of our communities that can’t afford to do the same. Many of those who work hourly positions without sick leave are already living paycheck to paycheck. Losing hours at work often means a choice between buying food and paying the rent. It often means choosing between immediate needs for healthcare, paying for childcare, and preserving your housing. And it means that we’re going to see an increase in eviction filings and displacement in our communities.

Things become even more difficult for families in need when schools are cancelled, childcare is closed, and food pantries are shut due to quarantines. For these families, food insecurity from students missing two meals a day at school and lost wages from lacking childcare options create impossible choices for members of our communities.

The plain fact here is that our community’s systems aren’t prepared for what comes next and we need your support to help keep families safe in their homes during this tough time.

While we make arrangements for rescheduling our Iron Chef event (don’t worry, we’ll keep you posted!), we’re asking for your financial support to make sure we can continue doing our work during these turbulent times. In exchange, your contributions will still ensure your sponsorship of our Iron Chef event and your donations will serve as vital support for those who are likely to be hardest hit by this health crisis.

Our team will continue working diligently each day, but we can’t do it without your help. Please consider giving generously to help us provide support to those most in need during these coming months and onward to the next 40 years of working for Housing Justice in Wisconsin. Any amount makes a huge difference!


Public Health Measures

In order to reduce the likelihood of exposure, the Tenant Resource Center has adopted hourly cleaning procedures for our office. We're implementing social distancing practices and other measures; so we encourage a friendly wave instead of handshakes in our office. We're also taking steps to ensure that our employees are able to work from remote when possible, utilizing our sick leave policies for those who are feeling ill or need to self-quarantine, and taking steps to increase access to our services from outside of our office. All of these precautionary steps are designed to provide for the health and safety of our clients, staff, and volunteers; your help in making this possible is greatly appreciated.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, as identified by the CDC, please consider utilizing our services via phone (608) 257-0006 or through our website:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Other mild to severe respiratory illness.

A Word for Our Community

The Tenant Resource Center is working to ensure that our coworkers receive the necessary support during this public health crisis, and we encourage other employers to do the same. Some of the steps we're taking (and hope others in our community will take) include:

  • Allowing our coworkers to work from remote wherever possible, without consequences or impact to compensation;
  • Providing technological and logistical resources to those who need to reduce their exposure and work from remote;
  • Utilizing sick leave policies that ensure our coworkers don't face additional issues (child care costs, housing instability, food insecurity, etc.) caused by lost work or reduced pay; and
  • Empowering employees to make decisions that best protect their own health and the health of their families.

The issues surrounding housing justice in our community are looming, and we're gearing up for the next phase of this pandemic: large increases in evictions. While some of us are able to work remotely, take paid time off, or draw on savings to help cover our costs during this health crisis, there are many more members of our community that can't afford to do the same. Many of those who work hourly positions without paid sick leave are already living paycheck-to-paycheck. Losing hours at work often means a choice between buying food and paying rent. It often means choosing between immediate needs for healthcare, paying for childcare, or preserving their housing. And it means that we're going to see an increase in eviction filings and displacement in our communities.

Things become even more difficult for families in need when schools are cancelled, childcare facilities are closed, and food pantries are shut due to quarantines and social distancing policies. For these families, food security and lost wages from lacking childcare options create impossible choices for our neighbors, friends, and community members.

The plain fact here is that our community's systems aren't prepared for what comes next and we're going to have to work together to get through the times yet to come. For those we work with on a day-to-day basis, we encourage compassion, understanding, and real-world solutions to the problems to come.

During these tough times, we're also reminded of the stark consequences of the numerous law changes over the past several years. Most pointedly, the law preventing local moratoriums on evictions. While other communities take necessary action to enact moratoriums on eviction proceedings (Miami-Dade County, San Jose California, Los Angeles California, Washington D.C., and more), we're prevented from doing so due to State preemption. This is precisely the time for such local actions to promote the general welfare of our communities, because we know that displacement won't solve these problems; they'll only make it worse. While Dane County has rescheduled most (if not all) court proceedings where evictions would take place (please see above for more information), we know that as soon as the court calendar resumes these problems won't have gone away on their own.

In short, we need to work together as neighbors, coworkers, friends, and community members to find real-world solutions for what comes next.

For those looking for what solutions already have been proposed, and for more information on how COVID-19 could impact evictions and displacement, see the links below. We'll continue to update this page as more information is published:


Community Services

Below is a series of updates from other agencies, services, and resources in our community. We'll continue to update this page as updates to service become available.

Madison Gas & Electric Updates and Scam Notice

March 19th, 2020

We have been thinking about our community during this public health emergency, and I wanted provide you with information from MGE that may be useful to you, your organization, and the people we serve together.

1. Letter from CEO, Jeff Keebler, explaining the need to temporarily close our walk-in lobby at our office while continuing to serve customers and our continued response to gas and electric emergencies to ensure public safety. https://www.mge.com/newsroom/news-releases/articles/mges-commitment-to-our-customers
2. Bill payment options https://www.mge.com/customer-service/payment-and-billing/options/my-bill-pay-frequently-asked-questions
3. Due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 public health emergency, MGE will not be disconnecting customer services.
4. “Demand Payment” Scams. MGE has received reports of active scams as recently as last week. These scammers are impersonating MGE over the phone and demanding immediate payment and threatening utility disconnection. Please help get this information to the appropriate people in your networks. https://www.mge.com/newsroom/news-releases/articles/outsmart-utility-scammers

MGE appreciates our customers' understanding as we collectively navigate our community's and our nation's response to COVID-19. This is a rapidly changing situation, so please continue to check our website and social media for further information. (www.mge.com and www.facebook.com/madisongasandelectric)

If you have questions, our customer service representatives are available to help at 608-252-7222.

Friends of the State Street Family Outreach Services

March 19th, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Friends of the State Street Family has decided to suspend our traditional street outreach program. We are working in collaboration with area day programs as well as the shelters to identify ways we can support the work they are doing to keep our friends experiencing homelessness safe and healthy.

· FSSF is working to purchase and secure donations for snacks, hygiene items, and symptom treatment supplies to share with area agencies serving our friends.
· FSSF will host outdoor distribution of essential items at set locations, Schedule TBA.
· The FSSF Communications Line continues to operate.

We will do our best to connect essential survival gear to our friends. We are so thankful to all organizations and individuals working to provide services to our community’s most vulnerable citizens. Please let us know how we can help your efforts.

In friendship,
FSSF Board of Directors

Off The Square Club Closed

March 19th, 2020

Hello All: We just found out that one of our staff is being quarantined for 14 days who was at work not feeling well last week. We have also learned that 2 people where some members visit have been tested for the COVID-19 and are awaiting results. In light of this new information we have decided to close OTSC and re-evaluate next week. Please let me know if you have any questions. Regards and stay healthy, Linda

Legal Action of Wisconsin Operations Update

March 18th, 2020

Please note that Legal Action’s Eviction Defense Project will not be operating out of the courthouse through at least April 10, 2020. Existing clients can contact me at 608-620-2002 or hmw@legalaction.org and I will get back to them as soon as possible. Unfortunately, LAW is not currently able to accept new clients until further notice. Our offices are closed and we are transitioning all staff to remote work. We hope to be opening up intake again soon, so please check our website for updates. More information can be found here. https://www.legalaction.org/contact-us/covid-19-coronavirus-response-plan

Dane County Orders Suspending Evictions

March 18th, 2020

Attached to this email [see below] are two orders issued by Dane County Presiding Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn. The first order [see below], issued on March 12 and revised March 13, suspends new eviction hearings from March 16 to April 17, 2020.

The second order [see below], issued March 17, suspends all writs. I have confirmed with Judge Bailey-Rihn that there will be no evictions carried out by the Dane County Sheriff until further Order from the Court.

Shelter - Cold Weather Night Update

March 18th, 2020

Friday 3/20/20 will be the only CWN [Cold Weather Night] exception between Wednesday 3/18/20 and Sunday 3/22/20.

Briarpatch Youth Shelter

March 18th, 2020

Please be advised that our youth shelter is closed from March 18th through March 29th. This became necessary when several of our shelter staff were advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. Our current plan is to reopen the shelter at 9:00 a.m. on Monday March 30, 2020. Our RHY 24 hour help-line remains operational (608-251-1126) and a counselor will be on-call 24/7 during the period our shelter is closed. Our on-call staff will assist homeless and runaway youth with finding safe alternatives to shelter until we are able to reopen.

St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry Services

March 17th, 2020

Staff members at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Madison have been closely monitoring the situation regarding spread of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness it causes. The health and safety of everyone who visits our service center is our primary concern. We are taking precautions necessary to keep our clients, volunteers and staff safe. Despite these circumstances, food scarcity remains a major issue for local households coping with poverty, and we are determined to help meet that need in the safest ways possible. This is a fluid situation, and we will continue to adapt and make changes to our standard operating procedures as needed.

Our current food pantry protocols include (as of March 16, 2020):

· Food pantry hours that remain unchanged (see above)
· Food pantry clients no longer allowed into the building to shop
· Food packed in boxes, provided in the pantry lot, and typically loaded into vehicles.
· Proper hygiene promoted (see below) among volunteers and staff involved in food distribution – and all encouraged to stay home if feeling sick
· Gloves and hand-sanitizer readily accessible to volunteers and staff, and appropriate, frequent hand-washing and related hygiene required
· Disinfection of commonly touched areas of pantry equipment, surfaces, etc.
· An existing partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Southern Wisconsin and other suppliers to ensure we can continue to access food needed for the households we serve

Services at The Beacon

March 16th, 2020

The Beacon is committed to our mission of serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Because of this commitment, no challenge is too big. We come together in these challenging times to face problems head-on as a team. We will stand side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder with our brothers, sisters, and those who do not identify as either. We will make sure our brothers, sisters, and those who do not identify as either can access essential resources, such as showers, laundry, and computer lab. We understand that they need us the most right now, and we are going to be there for them unless we are forced to close. Now more than ever they need us, and we will be there for them. At the Beacon, we often say our guests are family, and this is our moment to make sure our family's safety and wellbeing is put first. Our guests have also reciprocated the family, and team aspect by helping us maintain the facility in these challenging times. They have helped clean, sanitize, and disinfect the facility, and we are grateful. We will continue to follow CDC and Public health recommendations for Social Distancing and hand washing. Our goal is to protect our brothers, sisters, and those who do not identify as either from harm. We are committed to the wellbeing of our community and our brothers and sisters. Hope will continue to shine at The Beacon!

MMSD Providing Free Healthy Meals for Kids

March 16th, 2020

Schools are closed but MMSD will be providing free, nutritious meals for kids daily at sites around Madison. A take-home breakfast and lunch will be provided in pre-packaged paper bags at each drop-off site, once per day. Sites and times are listed below.

Given that our school buildings are closed, meals will be distributed at these sites to children from a food truck stationed outside of the school building. We strongly encourage practicing social distancing when picking up meals and thorough hand-washing with soap and water before eating the take-home meals.

We will be posting additional information here shortly on other opportunities to access meals through community partners throughout Madison.

Food Pick Up FAQs

Who is eligible for breakfast and lunch each day?
All children 18 and under in the household if at least one child attends a dismissed school.

Can a family member pick up food for another family member?
Yes, Food Service Workers will be required to ask the household member who is picking up the meals how many children are in the family and where they go to school. If they indicate that a child is too young to attend school, they can still receive a meal.

How are we partnering with community organizations that want to provide assistance?
Our priority at this time is getting food prepared and delivered to the 12 serving sites that we have established. We are evaluating the possibility of adding additional community sites as needed after our initial start up of off site meals on Monday March 16. Thank you to all who have offered support at this time. It is most appreciated.

How will MMSD communicate other non-MMSD sites where food and supplies might be available?
A list of food pantry locations and their updates will be included in the MMSD resources. Information on Community Center resources will also be available.

Will food pantries remain open in schools?
No. Food pantries at school sites will be closed. This is a full list of Food Pantries in our area. Some may be closed or limited due to COVID-19: https://www.cacscw.org/get-help/food-bank/dane-county/

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services

March 16th, 2020

DAIS has proudly supported survivors of domestic violence and their families in Dane County without interruption for 43 years. However, during an emergency, such as a public health crisis, DAIS’ responsibility to our community at large has the potential to change or limit the scope of our services. Currently, the coronavirus outbreak is creating this type of crisis. As stated on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website: “More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days, including more instances of community spread. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur.”

Beginning Tuesday, March 17th, the DAIS business offices will be closed to the public. Scheduled appointments should report to the 24/7 security entrance. DAIS will not be able to provide any walk-in services for the foreseeable future. Those needing services should contact our 24-hour Help Line at (608) 251-4445. Please note that call volumes may be higher during this time. We appreciate your patience.

Because we wish to respond proactively to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, and to do our part in controlling the virus’ spread, we are adjusting or suspending several aspects of our typical programs and practices until further notice. DAIS leadership staff will revisit these measures daily and assess the need for maintaining or modifying them based on any new information or directives we receive from public health officials at the local, state, and federal levels.
• We are temporarily suspending in-person educational presentations to community groups, as well as hosting informational tables at community events. We hope to resume our Public Education Program May 1st but will make that decision based on conditions and public health department recommendations at that time.
• We are also suspending all school-based and community-based prevention activities effective immediately, including our MENS (Men Encouraging Non-violent Strength) Clubs. We will follow the lead of our educational partners as to when it would be most appropriate to re- institute these initiatives.
• We are temporarily suspending in-person participation in community meetings and task forces. When feasible, we will use remote methods to participate in discussions. We will reevaluate conditions in mid-April.
• To limit non-essential visits to our facility, we are cancelling in-person meetings hosted by DAIS until further notice.
• We will not be accepting donations of any used items until further notice. Donations of new, needed items as identified on our Wishlist (cleaning products, paper towels, hand soap and hand sanitizer, baby wipes, large trash bags, unexpired food, non-perishable food, etc.) will still be accepted. Deliveries of donations must be arranged in advance by calling (608) 338-0065 or emailing at inkind@abuseintervention.org
• We are cancelling all support groups and children’s programming until at least the week of April 6th .
• We will not be able to accommodate any walk-in appointments until further notice.
• All case management services will be provided over the phone. Limited in-person appointments may be offered based on the request. In person appointments are not guaranteed.
• We are suspending our Legal Clinic at the Dane County Courthouse until further notice.
• Legal Advocacy services will be primarily provided over the phone. Court accompaniments may be possible based on Legal Advocate availability. If the courthouse closes, our legal advocacy services will revert to exclusively phone-based services.
• Additional health and safety precautions will be taken for the limited in-person client meetings with DAIS staff and volunteers that may be available (such as increasing the physical distance between individuals during face-to-face appointments).

In addition to these adjustments to DAIS programming, DAIS is fully committed to following the CDC’s general recommendations for homeless shelters, places of employment, and the community at large. For example, employees will be expected to stay home when they are sick. Employees who arrive at work while ill will be sent home immediately. All employees are expected to wash hands regularly, and frequently contacted surfaces will be disinfected multiple times daily to promote a clean, healthy environment.

While DAIS will take every necessary measure (as recommended by the CDC and local public health agency to reduce the spread of infect, we will also strive to balance any precautionary steps with the need to ensure continued access to our supportive services for victims and survivors, especially those who are members of marginalized and vulnerable populations.

While we greatly hoped to avoid any interruptions in our services, we have chosen to be as proactive as possible as we begin to understand the true scope of the situation in Dane County. Based on the research we have done, we believe that these steps will help protect DAIS clients, staff and volunteers, as well as any persons at increased risk of severe illness, and will help us return to full functionality as quickly as possible. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Hope's Home Ministries

March 16th, 2020 

  • Wednesday Community Breakfast, Connections to Care (on-site outreach) & Come As You Are Worship: cancelled until further notice.

  • Food Pantry: Closed the week of March 16th; working on alternate plans, call 608-251-4407 for up-to-date information 

Coordinated Entry Services

March 13th, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health emergency and to mitigate the potential impact on the vulnerable people we serve, beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, Coordinated Entry (CE) staff will not be meeting with participants at The Beacon. CE screening and assessments, including VI-SPDAT assessments, will be conducted over the phone.

To contact Coordinated Entry, call (608) 826-8019 and leave a message or complete the Coordinated Entry Form on the Homeless Services Consortium website: www.danecountyhomeless.org/cecontactform.

CE staff will be monitoring messages and returning phone calls within 24 business hours. CE hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30a – 4pm.

Please note that Coordinated Entry partner agencies (ICA, Porchlight, The Salvation Army and Tenant Resource Center) are currently working to determine continuity of services for CE assessments at emergency shelter and Eviction Prevention Coordinated Entry services at Tenant Resource Center. We will provide updates as available.

The Beacon

March 13th, 2020

We have decided, for the safety of everyone, to strongly suggest that partner agency hours/access at The Beacon be suspended until further notice. Though we understand that your services are needed and we appreciate all that you do, your coming to The Beacon exposes you to a large group of people in a close contact environment. We do not want to add to your risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. We also must think about the population that we serve. They are vulnerable and need The Beacon to remain open through the coronavirus pandemic. We want to limit the exposure that both our guests and staff have to outside sources in hopes that everyone can remain healthy and our doors can remain open.

Public Services Commission - Utility Disconnect Moratorium Extended

March 13th, 2020

MADISON - On Friday, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) directed water, electric, and natural gas utilities to cease disconnecting residential service for nonpayment until the state public health emergency has been lifted. Additionally, utilities must make reasonable attempts to reconnect service to an occupied dwelling that has been disconnected. This comes after Governor Tony Evers issued Executive Order 72 declaring a public health emergency to enhance the state's response to COVID-19. Once the public health emergency is lifted, the utility may disconnect service to a property that was reconnected during this period without further notice if an appropriate payment or payment arrangement has not been established. Wisconsin is currently under a winter moratorium on disconnections of water, electric, and natural gas service when used for home heating. The moratorium runs until April 15 and would typically allow for disconnections for nonpayment to resume. That moratorium would be extended for all service until the public health emergency is lifted. As water service is not commonly part of a home's heating system, utilities can disconnect customers' water service at any time of year if that customer has electric or gas heat. According to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adequate hand washing is critical toward preventing the spread of the disease. Among other things, the CDC recommends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Catholic Multicultural Center

March 13th, 2020

The Catholic Multicultural Center, 1862 Beld St, Madison (608-661-3512) will be implementing the following program suspensions and changes starting Monday, March 16 until further notice:

> All classes (ESL, Citizenship, Spanish language, computer, etc.) are cancelled.
> Shower and laundry services for homeless are suspended.
> All drop-in employment search services are suspended.
> Computer lab will be closed.
> All CMC support groups (FUNNE, cancer support, etc.) are suspended.
> NA and AA meetings will be allowed to meet with restrictions. All other facility use group meetings are cancelled or suspended.

>Free Meal Program: Carry out food will be provided in the parking lot. Guests will be asked to grab-and-go. There will be no dining area provided. Food will be served 4 - 5pm M - F; and 11am - 12pm Sat & Sun.

>Food Pantry and Personal Essentials Pantry: Food and personal essentials will be distributed through our garage door area. Guests will complete a selection list and volunteers/staff will bag/box up the selections and bring them out to guests. Food pantry hours: 2 - 4pm Tuesday; and 10:30am - 12pm Thursday. PEP hours: 2 - 4pm Tuesday. There will be no pre-registration.

> Immigration Legal Services will be provided by appointment only. No walk-in clients or inquiries will be seen. Appointment slots will be limited. Call 441-0114 to make an appointment.

 

Do you like this page?