Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program launched near the end of February 2021 to provide aid for those impacted during the pandemic.

“We’ve helped about 2,100 families throughout the course of the last 21 months with rent and helping them with you know, their utilities and just maintaining their housing through this difficult time.”

Kristin Walukas is with Western Dairyland, an organization that serves those in need in Eau Claire, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, and Clark counties.

In one week, Walukas says they’re providing about 100-thousand dollars worth of assistance but it’s not enough to meet demand.

“We receive about 100 requests per week, and we’re able to serve about 100 people a month, so there’s a large waiting list, and we’re prioritizing people that have eviction notices to make sure that we’re keeping people housed going here into the winter.”

So far, the Wisconsin Department of Administration says the program has paid out nearly 219 million dollars worth of assistance.

It has about 44 million dollars left. When that money is gone, the program is expected to stop.

“There really isn’t anything to fill the void when it does end and the tenants that we are helping, they get a maximum of 18 months of assistance, and that does come to an end for many of our families. That has already come to an end, and they’re having to find ways to make ends meet.”

Walukas says Wera was always meant to be a temporary program. To help address the ongoing need, Walukas says communities need more housing options.

“There is housing but a lot of it is out of reach for a lot of people and so we need more affordable housing, and we need subsidized housing.”

Walukas says this housing help is what every community needs to provide stability to families like the ones they serve.

Walukas says if you are in need, still fill out an application for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. She also recommends keeping a good line of communication with your landlord explaining what your situation is and what you’re doing to try to change things.