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MADISON — More than 5,400 Wisconsin homeowners have received assistance from the Wisconsin Help for Homeowners (WHH) program, surpassing $39 million in mortgage, utility, and property tax payments statewide.

This is a federally-funded program that provides up to $40,000 in financial assistance for homeowners. By doing so, the aid helps prevent foreclosure due to pandemic-related financial burdens impacting Wisconsinites.

“Our Help for Homeowners program has helped thousands of Wisconsin homeowners avoid foreclosure in nearly every county in the state, helping prevent folks from having to choose between putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads during a difficult time,” said Gov. Evers in a news release. “I’m proud we’ve been able to help so many Wisconsinites make ends meet and want to remind folks across our state that this critical support is still available.”

Assistance program collaborators

The program launched in March 2022 and is administered by the Department of Administration (DOA) in partnership with the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) and Take Root Wisconsin.

DOA has also partnered with the Wisconsin State Treasurer and local treasurers to assist homeowners with property tax arrearages. WHH and the federal Homeowner Assistance Fund are funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.

“Helping over 5,000 households stay safe in their homes is an exciting milestone for this much-needed program,” said Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld. “We are grateful for Gov. Evers’ commitment to help hard-working families and for our statewide network of partners in administering this program to help Wisconsin homeowners avoid foreclosure and retain safe, stable housing.”

Eligibility for residents

The program is open to Wisconsin homeowners who have experienced financial hardship since Jan. 21, 2020, and meet program requirements, including income eligibility.

Mortgage and interest payments, real estate taxes, lot fees, home energy, and other utilities, and other eligible payments are made directly to service providers. Additional information and applications are available on the program website.

“WISCAP’s network has long been active in efforts to prevent evictions and foreclosures, and this work allows us to be proactive in times of crisis—including the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brad Paul, executive director of WISCAP. “As with our work on the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance (WERA) program, Wisconsin Help for Homeowners has empowered WISCAP and our members to provide critical relief at a time of great stress for homeowners.”

Increasing housing stability

Per the release, this announcement builds on Gov. Evers’ previous investments during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure Wisconsinites have access to secure and stable housing.

Efforts have been, as in 2021, Gov. Evers created the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance program. The program provided rental and utility payment assistance to lower-income households to prevent evictions and housing instability. It concluded in March 2023, but the program distributed nearly $260 million to over 40,000 unique households statewide.

Budget plans

The 2023-25 biennial budget proposal by Gov. Evers includes several initiatives to promote local housing development and affordable housing solutions. It is a comprehensive, multi-pronged package of initiatives designed to address the unique challenges facing Wisconsin renters, including renovating existing housing, improving rental unit safety, providing legal aid for evictions, and expanding renter protections.

More information regarding the governor’s plans to invest in safe, affordable housing for Wisconsin workers and families, including promoting local housing development and solutions and ensuring protections for renters, is available online.

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