Renters can get free legal aid from the Milwaukee County Eviction Defense Project. This program uses volunteer lawyers, paralegals, and other professional staff to provide support to tenants that have been provided a vacate / eviction notice from their landlord. There are many forms of help provided to clients, including assistance negotiating settlements, document creation for court or to contest the eviction letter, lease review, and possible representation in housing court.
The program, known as EDP, relies strictly on volunteers. The goal is provide some form of free legal assistance to the thousands of individuals that face evictions each and every year in Milwaukee County. Since the resources for the program are limited, the office that provides the Eviction Defense Project is only open a limited number of hours per week.
Many low income tenants just can't afford an attorney. It may cost them hundreds or even thousands of dollars to contest an eviction on their own. On the other hand, many landlords in Milwaukee County as well as apartment complex owners can afford their own lawyer. So this means that a renter will rarely have legal representation and the landlord will normally have an attorney. This discrepancy obviously puts the tenant at a disadvantage.
The Milwaukee County Eviction Defense Project was created to help address this issue. The goal is to give low income tenants free legal aid to assist them in fighting the eviction, whether it is a pay or quit or some other notice from the sheriff or property owner. EDP can also address other issues as well, whether it is housing discrimination, illegal heat or power disconnections, or some other housing issue.
EDP can help reduce homelessness in the Milwaukee community. When a family and their kids have a stable place to live, this can help them improve their employment opportunities. It also helps with educational needs, as living in one place for a period of time allows the children to go to the same school and parents to find work in their region.
Each approved tenant's application will be reviewed on a case by case basis. If the Milwaukee County Eviction Defense Project can assist, then they will. Note some cases will not qualify as maybe the landlord is legally entitled to evict the tenant. Or maybe lack of resources or skillet from the attorney will also prevent assistance from being given.
If the eviction can be resolved by a payment plan or settlement of rental arrears, then that can be negotiated for free by the attorney. A document will also be created to memorialize that. In addition, if the tenant needs some short term help during this payment period, the attorney can direct the client to a number of low income assistance programs.
In some instances, if the case is strong enough and a volunteer attorney has time, they will represent the tenant in the city or county housing court. They will defend the family against the eviction claim, and try to find a solution. They can also help immigrants and Spanish speakers that may have a barrier to accessing representation in court. Free representation may also be provided by Eviction Defense Project (EDP) in discrimination cases.
EDP can also provide generalized, free legal aid. This will cover any housing issues the indigent family has. It ranges from information on utility disconnection laws in Wisconsin to information on how landlords need to repair a home, abide by lease terms, and more.
Any tenant that is interested in receiving services needs to stop in at the office to apply. Since the hours may vary individuals should call in advance. In addition, there is always a need for more volunteer lawyers from the city as well as county of Milwaukee. Any person in the legal profession that is seeking to give back to the community can also drop in the apply to volunteer. For more information on hours, dial 414-278-7722.
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