July/August 2020
Community Advocates Connections

Thank you for taking time out to learn how Community Advocates is providing services during these challenging times. Our staff is part of the critical safety net support needed by so many as they struggle to pay their bills without adequate income and to maintain their health during a pandemic. We have adapted the way we meet our clients’ and guests’ needs so that their economic, health, and mental health issues don’t turn into life-altering crises. We are providing services over the phone and email and, when, necessary, in person according to the best health and safety protocols. We are looking forward to opening our doors to the public at our offices on Lovell Street, Fond du Lac Avenue, and Brown Deer Road when it is safe to do so.

As you will see in this newsletter, COVID-19 hasn’t prevented us from providing much-needed services. It has merely challenged us to provide much-needed services in new ways, from partnering with rental housing stakeholders so that we can prevent a tidal wave of evictions from hitting Milwaukee County, to helping the students staying at the Milwaukee Women’s Center Emergency Shelter and Family Support Center attend school virtually and make the most of their educational opportunities.

We look forward to seeing you again in good health, and thank you for your support during these uncertain times.

In gratitude,
Andi Elliott
Chief Executive Officer
Community Advocates
Preventing a Tidal Wave of Evictions
As you are well aware, the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has created havoc in the rental housing sector. Fortunately, governments at all levels have responded with money for rent assistance and homelessness prevention, along with a temporary ban on evictions this spring that has now expired.

Community Advocates has put our decades of rental housing advocacy expertise to good use during this crisis. Our staff members have been working tirelessly and diligently so that tenants can stay in their homes if they have lost their jobs or have fallen ill, and to ensure that their landlords are not further penalized by the pandemic.

We are honored to administer $7 million of CARES Act funding from Milwaukee County to prevent eviction because of the hardships due to the pandemic, as well as distribute funds from other government and private contracts to promote housing stability with supports that include rent, rent arrears, utilities assistance, security deposit, and first month’s rent. We have developed new systems to process applications efficiently and accurately and have hired dozens of new housing advocates to help our veteran housing professionals meet the demand. So far, we have distributed more than $1.3 million to landlords on behalf of their tenants.

Our rent assistance program is part of the broader work being done by the Rental Housing Resource Center (RHRC), now operating virtually. Our partners are Apartment Owners Association of Southeast WisconsinCity of MilwaukeeIMPACT, Legal Action of WisconsinLegal Aid Society of MilwaukeeMediate Milwaukee and Milwaukee County with the support of the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin (UEDA), all of whom play critical roles in preventing eviction and homelessness throughout Milwaukee County. The partners work collaboratively and make referrals so that tenants and landlords can resolve their differences and pay their bills, as well as stabilize families, neighborhoods, and our larger community.

Individuals seeking to apply for rent assistance can contact our Rent HelpLine at 414-270-4646 or renthelp@communityadvocates.net to access an application, or they can apply directly via our online rent assistance application.
Community Advocates’ Services and Resources during COVID-19
While Community Advocates’ sites are closed to the public due to COVID-19, we are still providing services and resources to our community members.

You can get in touch with us in the following ways:

Milwaukee County Energy Assistance 2019-2020 Benefit Season Ends September 30
If you need help with your utility bills, don't wait to get help. The 2019-2020 Milwaukee County Energy Assistance Benefit Season ends September 30. The program has adapted to meet the issues presented by COVID-19 and the economic crisis. The program only looks at one previous month of income, to allow those who have recently lost income to be eligible for benefits, and all appointments are held on the phone to ensure everyone's health and safety. The program also created an online application and videos in English, Spanish, and Hmong to explain how to apply for benefits during the pandemic.

In addition, on August 20, the state Public Service Commission voted to extend the moratorium on on utility residential customer disconnections and refusal of service for nonpayment until October 1.

To schedule an Energy Assistance appointment, call 414-270-4MKE (4653) or go to keepwarmmke.org.
New Virtual Learning Center
In order to meet the needs of working parents living in shelter, the Milwaukee Women’s Center/Family Support Center has launched the Virtual Learning Center (VLC). The VLC is staffed with para-professionals in the field of education, social work, and art therapy who will supervise and provide enrichment to students attending school virtually. The VLC offers a safe alternative for students who currently do not have a "home" to home-school. The VLC is accepting donations of school supplies, art supplies, and snacks for the students. Thank you for your support!
Milwaukee Record’s Re-Porter Beer Benefits
Milwaukee Women’s Center
It’s back! The generous folks at Milwaukee Record have relaunched their Re-Porter beer, and, once again, a portion of the proceeds from the sales will go toward the Milwaukee Women’s Center’s programs. Right now, Re-Porter cans, crowlers, and growlers are available for curbside pickup at Company Brewing, which created this spiced porter, at 735 E. Center St., Milwaukee. This fall, you will be able to find it at additional local retailers.

We thank the Milwaukee Record staff for their continued kindness and creative fundraising for the individuals and families facing homelessness and domestic violence. We’re grateful!
Our Wish List
Our supporters are very generous, but the pandemic has prevented many of our donation drive organizers to cancel their events. At the same time, our guests at the Milwaukee Women’s Center’s Emergency Shelter and our other program participants are in great need of the basics as well as school supplies for their kids. We’re asking our community members to help us provide:
  • School supplies, especially backpacks for all ages, as well as notebooks, paper, pencils, pencil cases, erasers, and rulers
  • Personal care items for individual use, such as shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and lotion
  • Bedding, including twin sheets, blankets, towels, and wash cloths
  • Diapers for infants to toddlers
  • Socks for boys, girls, men, and women

Please contact Jeri Kavanaugh at jkavanaugh@communityadvocates.net to arrange your donation. You can also purchase items on Amazon (if you use Amazon Smile with this link Community Advocates will receive a donation as you shop) and have them delivered directly to us by sending them to Jeri Kavanaugh at Community Advocates, 728 N. James Lovell St., Milwaukee, WI 53233. Thank you for your support!
August 26: The Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, coordinated by the Public Policy Institute, has launched virtual mental health and wellness resource fairs. Their next session, to be held on Zoom and live-streamed on MCSAP's Facebook page, will focus on youth mental health for parents and youth work professionals. Speakers include Brooks Griffin, Sheryl Dean, Dr. Aljaji Camara, and Mickell Daniels. Get details and register at this link

September 2: Near West Side Partners will host a Wednesday Webinar on reckless driving with Ald. Chantia Lewis, Celia Jackson, and Damien Smith at 12 noon on their Facebook page.

September 7: Community Advocates' offices will be closed to observe Labor Day. Our 24/7 sites, the Milwaukee Women’s Center Emergency Shelter and Autumn West Safe Haven, will remain open. If you are having a domestic violence issue, please call our crisis line at 414-671-6140 anytime. If you need help with another issue during the holiday weekend, please contact Impact at 2-1-1.

September 30: Last day to apply for the Milwaukee County Energy Assistance Program for the 2019-2020 heating season. To schedule an appointment, call 414-270-4653 or go to keepwarmmke.org
Community Advocates
2020 Board of Directors
President: Jodi Wire | We Energies
Vice President: Bryan House | Foley & Lardner, LLP
Treasurer: Sandra Samse | Johnson Keland Management
Secretary: Sharon Jordan | Direct Supply

Board Members
Sheree Dallas Branch | The Salvation Army
Anne DeLeo | Community Volunteer
Natasha Dotson | Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative
Valerie Gabriel | Community Volunteer
Erin Henry | Northwestern Mutual
Betsy Hoylman | Northwestern Mutual
Gary Ingram | Igary Events
Pamela Klein | Fresh Coast Partners, LLC
Jim Liedtke | Community Volunteer
Ashley Pavlic | Medical College of Wisconsin
Kate Venne | Brady Corporation
Lisa Kaiser | Community Advocates | 414-270-2999  | lkaiser@communityadvocates.net | communityadvocates.net