• 07/18/2023 3:00 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    On May 30, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a Request for Input on tenant protections. This exercise could result in the adoption of a range of negative policies including national rent control, a “source of income” mandate requiring acceptance of Section 8 vouchers, just cause eviction requirements that effectively prohibit nonrenewals, and extended notice procedures for residents in federally-backed properties, to name a few.

    As the FHFA considers expanding federal landlord and tenant requirements on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-backed properties, it is essential for members of the rental housing industry like you to provide perspective about your business practices.

    The feedback FHFA receives will inform their future decision-making, so it is critical that the agency hears directly from our industry. This is your chance to engage directly to protect your business and your communities from potential harmful policies!

    The deadline to submit comments is July 31.

    Take action TODAY!

  • 07/15/2023 1:00 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    By Attorney Heiner Giese

    Deputy Chief Judge William Pocan has announced that small claims cases in Milwaukee County will return to in-person hearings starting Monday, August 14.

    The schedule will be the same as before COVID: Collection cases in the AM, Return date for evictions at 1:30 and adjourned eviction cases at 2:30. Also (good news!) affidavits of noncompliance will be taken as walk-ins at 2:30 daily.

    At 11:00 AM is the time set for walk-ins asking for a case to be reopened. This will mostly be tenants but could be landlords who maybe missed a return date and had their case dismissed.

    There will be three commissioners assigned to return date and adjourned date hearings and a fourth commissioner iin SC4 will conduct trials.

    Judge Pocan said that requests could still be made to appear via Zoom. He gave examples of illness, no child care, etc. and in those cases the CC will have a screen in their hearing room to allow participation via Zoom.

  • 07/11/2023 10:00 AM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    By Dawn Anastasi, RPA Board Member

    An article published today by the Journal Sentinel states:

    Milwaukee County is looking for new ways to get landlords to accept more renters who use housing vouchers.

    The article also included a statement from Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Shawn Rolland:

    "If Milwaukee County cannot use a metaphorical stick to force landlords to accept tenants with a Section 8 voucher, then we should consider offering a carrot," Rolland told the Journal Sentinel.

    However, I don't think Milwaukee County is taking into account the Housing Authority's own statement (as mentioned in my previous blog article) that the HACM Section 8 program has over 15,000 people on the waiting list.

    Isn't the actual problem that there's not enough housing vouchers for everyone who wants one?

    What did you think when you read this article? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

  • 07/10/2023 12:00 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    By Attorney Heiner Giese

    The eviction moratorium which ended in August 2021 is still having some aftereffects. A major Milwaukee nonprofit housing provider has gone into receivership. One of Heartland Housing's developments is the St. Anthony's apartments for the homeless at 1004 N. 10th St. Four other apartment complexes are also in the receivership.

    A Milwaukee apartment development for homeless people faces questions (jsonline.com, Subscribers Only)

    The problems at St. Anthony's are partly tied to the 2020-'21 federal evictions moratorium. It was enacted after unemployment soared during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The moratorium, along with property management issues, caused rent collections to fall short, said Don Laackman, chief program officer at Heartland Alliance. The Chicago-based nonprofit social services provider is the parent of Heartland Housing.

  • 07/01/2023 11:00 AM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    HACM (Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee) provided a handout on inspections during their Section 8 Providers meeting on 6/29/23.

    General Info

    • Inspection times are 9:00am-12:00pm or 1:00pm-4:30pm
    • Inspectors may be able to call before coming if you request it
    • Rehab work and material should be unobtrusive during inspection
    • Unit must be vacant or occupied by the voucher tenant
    • An inspection cannot take place if the unit is occupied by a non-voucher tenant
    • Adult (18+) representative of landlord or tenant must be present during the inspection
    • Approved voucher units require an inspection every other year, or upon a new voucher tenant
    • Inspectors will review all common areas that tenants can access including basements, attics, and garages (the unit may fail if the inspector cannot get in)

    Common Items that Cause an Inspection to Fail

    • 10 year battery sealed smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are not found within 6 feet of each bedroom and living area
    • Doors and/or windows are not secure
    • Windows on the first floor are missing locks
    • At least one window per room is missing a screen
    • Plumbing leaks (including a dripping faucet)
    • Low water pressure
    • Peeling or chipping paint
    • Handrails that aren't secure
    • Guardrails that aren't secure on outside staircases and porches
    • Non-working light fixtures
    • Uncapped, unused gas lines
    • Dirty carpet
    • General cleanliness isn't up to par
    • Bathrooms that don't have a fan or window ventilation
    • Outlets that aren't grounded or have proper polarity
    • Operating stove and refrigerator missing from the unit

    What Qualifies as a Bedroom?

    • Closet or movable wardrobe, or one in close proximity to the room's door, such as in an adjacent hallway
    • Minimum 70 sqft
    • Minimum 7 feet ceiling height
    • Heat source
    • Privacy door
    • Operable window (with screen)
    • Cannot be a walk-through
    • Must have an overhead light OR a minimum of two separate electrical outlets

    How to Schedule an Inspection?

  • 06/30/2023 3:30 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    Press Release from SDC (Social Development Commission):

    The Social Development Commission will no longer be accepting applications as of Saturday, July 1st for the Milwaukee Emergency Rental Assistance Program, also known as MERA, due to funds exhausting. SDC will continue to process applications that have been received up to June 30th on a first come, first serve basis.

    However, no new applications will be accepted starting July 1st.

    The MERA Program is funded by the Federal Government through the State of Wisconsin and the City of Milwaukee to help Milwaukee residents recover from the impact of COVID. SDC is proud to say that we have helped over 10,000 households in the city of Milwaukee.

    Putting out more than $90 million dollars in the community helping families stay in their homes. On average SDC paid $4,000 in rent and utilities and on some occasions up to 8 months. This support has helped many Milwaukee residents restart their lives, regain employment, and come out of the pandemic with a better outlook.

    As these funds diminish, SDC recognizes the continued need for assistance and the many people who are still unable to pay their monthly rent and utilities. The impact of the pandemic is still being felt to this day. We look forward to more transformative approaches as we continue to empower Milwaukee County residents with the resources to move beyond poverty.

  • 06/29/2023 11:30 AM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    By Dawn Anastasi, RPA Board Member

    This morning I went to the Section 8 Housing Providers meeting hosted by Steve Fendt and Jacqueline Martinez of Housing Authority City of Milwaukee. Alexi Millard, Landlord Engagement Coordinator for Milwaukee County Rent Assistance, was also there. I would say there were about 100-130 landlords and other attendees there (including Mediate Milwaukee for example).

    Here is a summary of the notes I took during the meeting as well as some of the information from the handouts.

    Housing Statistics by the Numbers

    • There are approximately 15,000 people on the waiting list for Section 8 in Milwaukee County
    • Over 1500 private housing providers in the City of Milwaukee receive voucher payments each month directly from the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM).
    • Over 6000 eligible households receive housing assistance through vouchers in Milwaukee.

    Issues Landlords Reported working with HACM in the Past

    1. Communication
    2. Inspections
    3. Rent Reasonableness
    4. Tenant Accountability

    How HACM is Working to Resolve these Issues

    Rental property owners help make housing affordable by partnering with HACM and the Milwaukee County Rent Assistance programs.

    1) Communicating with HACM

    • Phone calls are difficult for staff to return
    • Use email if possible, it's faster
    • Offices were shut down during COVID however are now open on Tuesdays and Thursdays

    2) Inspections

    • HACM has put out a one-page guide to help rental housing providers more easily understand what the inspector is looking for.
    • One source of confusion is that a stove and refrigerator must be present at the time of inspection.
    • A new email address for scheduling inspections may help. (The phone number 414-286-5658 is also available.)

    3) Rent Reasonableness

    • In the past, there wasn't enough transparency as to how the amount HACM would pay for a rental was derived.
    • As of March 2023, HACM has partnered with AffordableHousing.com which is free.
    • This website gives you a free rent estimator so you can see if your rent is in a reasonable range.
    • HACM staff try to find comps within a 2 mile range that are at least 80% compatible (same # of bedrooms, etc)
    • Amenities like ceiling fans, etc can help boost how much rent you can collect.

    4) Tenant Accountability

    • If the rental housing provider sends out a 30-day notice to pay rent or vacate to a Section 8 tenant, they must also send a copy to the Rent Assistance office.
    • HACM shared a copy of the letter that they will send out to the tenant to try to hold them accountable.
    • Organizations like Mediate Milwaukee can also get involved to work with the owner/tenant on an agreement.

    HACM hopes to have more of these meetings between rental housing providers and their staff in the future, in order to improve communication and transparency.

    In addition, a new landlord portal is launching soon with some features landlords should find helpful.

    • Rent ledger
    • Case worker info
    • Inspection reports
    • Ability to add/change banking info for direct deposit

    Have you worked with Rent Assistance in the past? If not, would the information above encourage you to work with them again?

  • 06/27/2023 3:00 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

  • 06/23/2023 7:00 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    By Dawn Anastasi, RPA Board Member

    Connor Goggans, the Lead Community Intervention Specialist for the Milwaukee County Housing Division, recently shared with RPA the upcoming proposed changes for calculating Fair Market Rents (FMRs).

    This is a 17-page document, so to summarize for our members, here are some of the notable points:

    The primary uses of FMRs are to determine payment standards for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, to determine initial renewal rents for some expiring project-based Section 8 contracts, and to serve as rent ceilings for rental units in both the HOME Investment Partnerships Program and the Emergency Solutions Grants Program and a primary rent standard option for the Housing for Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program. 

    To better determine payment standards and related parameters for HUD programs, HUD proposes changes in how FMRs are calculated in this notice and seeks public comment on the proposed changes.

    The comment period ends on July 24, 2023. HUD accepts comments either by postal mail or via email, however email is the preferred delivery method.

    Interested persons may submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments submitted electronically through the website can be viewed by other commenters and interested members of the public.

    Note that in order to submit a comment, you'll need to reference Docket No. FR-6401-N-01.

    Back in September 2022, HUD published a similar notice to the above and solicited feedback. Here is some of the feedback they received:

    Many commenters expressed that recipients of Housing Choice Vouchers are facing decreasing success rates in finding housing at the current FMR rates due to steep rent increases. Some commenters stated that the gaps between the FMR and market rates are making it harder for assisted families to find affordable housing because FMRs fail to reflect actual rent prices and, as a result, more voucher holders are priced out of local rental housing inventories.

    In years past, I also saw the same issue where rent amounts that were allowed by the Section 8 program did not match that of market rents.

    Commenters also suggested additional transparency about the use of private data sources when calculating the gross rent inflation adjustment factors. These commenters specifically recommended that HUD publish reports documenting FY2023 FMRs that were adjusted using private sector rental data as well as the geographies and the prior inflation adjustment where the private data are used. 

    One commenter said that the average person cannot understand HUD’s methodology for calculating rent and that rents should be based on advertised housing prices. Another commenter stated that the FMR does not consider actual rent prices and requested that HUD abandon their current FMR calculation method.

    I have to say that I agree with the commenters above. In the past, it wasn't clear how HUD was directing the housing authority to determine the maximum allowed rent since it seemed so far below market rent.

    So how does HUD calculate FMR (fair market rent)? Based on the document provided, it's actually a 7 part process. Here's a summary of the parts evaluated:

    • Base Rent. First, HUD establishes a “base rent” for two-bedroom units from the 5-year 40th percentile estimates of gross rent from the ACS.

    • Recent Mover Adjustments. HUD then adjusts the base rent using a “recent mover adjustment factor” that is based on the ratio of the estimate of gross rent paid by recent movers from the 1-year ACS (American Community Survey) to the estimate of gross rent paid by all renters from the 5-year ACS for the smallest level of geography containing the FMR area that contains statistically reliable 1-year data.

    • Inflation Adjustment. HUD then accounts for inflation from the ACS year by applying a “gross rent inflation factor,” which is calculated from the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

    • Trend Factor. Because it calculates FMRs ahead of each fiscal year, HUD provides a further inflation adjustment in the form of a “trend factor.” The trend factor represents the expected future level of the gross rent CPI for the upcoming fiscal year compared to the most recent actual gross rent CPI.

    • State minimum FMRs. Additionally, HUD calculates state minimum FMRs based on the median FMR for non-metropolitan portions of each state.

    • Bedroom Ratios. HUD calculates FMRs for unit sizes other than two bedrooms by applying “bedroom ratios” calculated from the relationships between rents for units of different sizes according to the 5-year ACS.

    • Limit on Decreases. Finally, HUD does not allow an area’s FMR to decline by more than 10 percent.

    Whew! Did you get all that? Now I can understand the statement "One commenter said that the average person cannot understand HUD’s methodology for calculating rent and that rents should be based on advertised housing prices."

    Interested in reading the full document? Click here to visit HUD's website.

    Do you have any tenants on Section 8 / Rent Assistance?

    Have you faced any of the issues described above?

    Share your experiences in the comments below!

  • 06/13/2023 6:00 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    Milwaukee County is making their "last call" for applications for ERA (Emergency Rental Assistance) funds. In just one week, submitting new applications will be put on hold while existing applications are processed, to see if there will be any funds left to continue.

    The Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) fund was funded by the federal government. Milwaukee County has spent about $70 million of what it was allocated since 2021. Just $8 million remains.

    "It is for households that were experiencing hardships during the pandemic," said Community Advocates CEO Andi Elliot.

    Elliot said now is the time for people to be proactive about their home circumstances.

    "My advice would be looking at your current situation and thinking about it now. This is maybe the time that you need to move on to something that's a little bit more affordable," she said.

    See full article here

Rental Property Association of Wisconsin, Inc. (Formerly AASEW)
P.O. Box 4125
Milwaukee, WI 53204-7905
Phone: 414-276-7378

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