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Bright Ideas 2020: Funding without restrictions or service requirements will end evictions

Bright Ideas 2020: Funding without restrictions or service requirements will end evictions

Debra Puzzo

Debra Puzzo

Bright Ideas are back! Leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and people who are doing interesting things share their bright ideas for 2020 with the Cap Times. Find them posted here throughout the week and in print on Jan. 8.

“Any minors in the home?” 

I hold my breath waiting for the answer to that question. The person or couple is looking for help paying their rent to keep from being evicted and ending up homeless. If they have children, there are four programs that might be able to help. If they don’t, there are only two. 

One of the two has severe restrictions from all levels of government that few qualify for, however, and the other is a literal lottery — a half-hour time slot once a week when hundreds call in looking for help. Only those whose calls are lucky enough to get answered have a chance at receiving financial assistance. More often than not, they are already out of money anyway. 

Millennials are notorious for putting off milestones, such as children and home ownership, due to low wages and high costs of living. This creates a Catch-22. Millennial residents are too poor for children, but cannot receive housing support without children. Of course, there are many who can’t have children or choose not to, as well as retirees whose children have grown up, who are also left out. 

To be clear, families with minors are not getting adequate help, either. But society maintains that childless adults should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. 

Housing is the answer to homelessness, and a big part of that is keeping people in their homes. As it stands, a majority of people who need help can’t access the city’s resources due to these rules and myriad other restrictions — income, housing cost, you name it! 

Madison should provide more eviction prevention funds without restrictions and let those on the front lines decide how to use the money. More flexible funding will keep more people — both childless adults and adults with children — out of homelessness.

— As told to Parker Schorr

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