New Resource Center Opens Doors to Alleviate Affordable Housing…

Hope Housing. For all renters, Eau Claire has a new resource center for renters and landlords.

Amid a society whose capacity for innovation, collaboration and progress is growing, there is also a growing need to ensure that its residents have access to homes.

Affordable housing has been a major concern in the Chippewa Valley for more than a decade, and this problem is exacerbated by the rise of luxury apartments, increasing rent, and a vacancy rate that is shrinking every day. (At just 3%, Eau Claire’s rental vacancy rate is currently half the state’s healthy rate.) The 2017 Wisconsin Poverty Report charts the Eau Claire area’s poverty rate as the second worst in the state (behind only Milwaukee) and with 42% of Eau Claire households paying more than 50% of their income on rent according to the ALICE report from United Way, a brokerage It is needed now more than ever.

A single eviction can change the course of an individual or family’s life, and multiple evictions in a community are destabilizing.

Susan Wolfgram

Co-director of the Eau Claire Tenant and Landlord Resource Center

A chapter of the local nonprofit JONAH (Join Our Neighbors to Advance Hope), the Affordable Housing Task Force, has been working in the valley for years to address the root causes of instability in our community. Now, after looking at tenant-landlord communication resources in other Wisconsin cities like Madison, they have created the Eau Claire Tenant-Landlord Resource Center (ECTLRC) – the first resource of its kind available in the Valley.

“Since 2018, our staff has been repeatedly receiving emails/calls from residents who did not know their rights as tenants, were evicted from their apartments, and contacted us late…they either had nowhere to go that they could afford or they “They will accept them with barriers,” said Susan Wolfgram, co-director of the new center. “We heard from landlords in a hearing in 2019 and since then… what will be most helpful for them is to have someone to call who can intervene early when “There is a ‘problem with the tenant’ before it quickly escalates into the eviction process.”

The Eau Claire Tenant-Landlord Resource Center aims to do just that.

“Our mission is to provide education, counseling and mediation services that foster positive relationships between tenants and housing providers,” Wolfgram explained. Services at the Resource Center include mediation (Wolfgram is a certified mediator through UW-Madison), housing counseling and mobility assistance, tenant support in filling out applications, rental counseling, peer mentoring, legal assistance, and advocacy.

Currently, the center’s office is located inside Grace Lutheran Church (202 W. Grand Ave.) by appointment only via their website. They will also be available two days a week at Sojourner House (618 S. Barstow St.).

JONAH also hosts monthly issues and work nights, this month featuring the Eau Claire Tenant-Landlord Resource Center on Tuesday, September 26, from 6-8pm at Grace Lutheran Church. This resource is for anyone needing guidance in any residential setting, whether a landlord or tenant.

“A single eviction can change the course of an individual or family’s life, and multiple evictions in a community are destabilizing,” Wolfgram explained. “Housing our workforce is economic development and good for business because home is where the business sleeps at night.”

In Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Driven Out: Poverty and Profit in the American City — who studies the issue in Milwaukee — sums up the housing challenge in a simple, real message that impacts all housing efforts: “Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for every person in this county. The reason is simple: Without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.”

Learn more about the Eau Claire Tenant-Landlord Resource Center’s schedule and resources, and stay up to date with online office hours. Call the center at (715) 529-2918.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *