Community Action News
Governor Tony Evers Proclaims May 2021 Community Action Month

Community Action Month in Wisconsin 2021

May 6, 2021

View the proclamation here

Whereas;  one in ten Wisconsinites lives below the federal poverty line,
and more than 18,000 kids and youthacross our state experiencedpicture of proclamation homelessness in 2019; and

Whereas; community action agencies are robust state and local forces that connect the people they serve to lifechanging services and create pathways to prosperity, and they can be found in almost every county in the United States; and

Whereas; community action agencies in Wisconsin have made essential contributions to our state, creating economic opportunities for low-income and working poor Wisconsinites and strengthening our communities; and
Whereas; the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) is comprised of 16 community action agencies, United Migrant Opportunity Services, and the Foundation for Rural Housing, which work together to fight poverty and help folks across our state achieve economic self-sufficiency; and

Whereas; since 1974, community action agencies in Wisconsin have contributed to policy development , community support and advocacy, and programming in the areas of affordable housing, weatherization, food security, employment, entrepreneurship, child development, community economic development, health, and education; and

Whereas; Wisconsin ' s community action agencies are committed to incorporating and amplifying the voices of the people living in the communities they serve, with a board structure that includes low-income individuals and families, elected officials or their representatives, and local professionals, groups, and interests ; and

Whereas; while the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique and unprecedented challenges over the past year, our community action agencies have consistently stepped up to meet these challenges , developing creative and innovative ways to ensure that all Wisconsinites continue to have access to the quality services and programming they need; and

Whereas; this month, the state of Wisconsin renews its resolve to partner with community action agencies and groups like WISCAP to fight inequities, reduce economic disparities, and provide resources and support to individuals, families, and communities throughout our state;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Tony Evers, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, do hereby proclaim May 2021 as
COMMUNITY ACTION MONTH
throughout the State of Wisconsin and I commend this observance to all our state's residents.

 

 
WERA Announcement

WERA

For Immediate Release:logo for WERA
February 25, 2021

Contact:
Kassidy Farrey
Communications & Outreach Manger
WISCAP
(608) 244-4422

Gov. Tony Evers Announces $322 million Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance (WERA) Program

The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) supports Gov. Tony Evers for his announcement of the $322 million Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance (WERA) Program. The program will provide financial assistance for rent, rental arrearages, utility costs, utility arrearages, and wrap around services for eligible households who have experienced impacted income resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

From June through November 2020, WISCAP’s network, in partnership with the Department of Administration (DOA), distributed over $28 million in rental assistance through the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program (WRAP). Building off that experience, the partnership between DOA and WISCAP’s network is now helping to distribute WERA funds. Eligible applicants include Wisconsin residents who demonstrate a risk of experiencing housing instability, have seen their income impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and earn a household income at or below 80 percent of the county median income. Rental and utility assistance payments are made directly to the landlord or utility provider on behalf of the tenant.

Residents of Brown, Dane, Milwaukee, and Waukesha Counties and the cities of Madison and Milwaukee can apply directly to their local government’s rental assistance provider.

The pandemic has put an additional strain on an already fragile situation for low-income households in Wisconsin where, prior to COVID-19, over 306,000 low-income renters in the state paid more than half their income on housing,  “Our communities throughout the state — rural, suburban and urban — are struggling with the effects of this public health emergency, and it is with respect to housing security where so many Wisconsinites are especially vulnerable,” said WISCAP Executive Director Brad Paul. “The Governor’s announcement of this new round of rental assistance is extremely encouraging as it provides critical resources to prevent eviction, homelessness, and ensure greater housing stability.”

“Eviction has long-lasting, devastating effects on a family’s future wellbeing and on the community as a whole,” says Hetti Brown, executive director of Couleecap, a Community Action Program in Southwestern Wisconsin. “Housing stability creates a feeling of safety and security, a foundation for a child’s educational success, and sense of community. The WERA program is an investment in these fundamental needs that we all share.”

The WERA program is coordinated by WISCAP, local community action agencies, and Energy Services, Inc. The program is administered by the Department of Administration (DOA) and funded by the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury. You can stay up-to-date regarding WERA by visiting our WERA page.

 
WISCAP Welcomes Poverty Fighting Measures in the Governor’s Budget

WISCAP Welcomes Poverty Fighting Measures in the Governor’s Budget

February 19, 2021

Contact:
Kassidy Farrey
Communications & Outreach Manager
WISCAP
[email protected]

Immediate Release: February 18, 2021

The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) welcomes the significant anti-poverty funding measures contained within the Governor’s 2021-2023 budget. These sensible investments in job training, childcare, affordable housing, broadband access and expansion, and grants to small business would help with the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, fuel economic development, and make meaningful inroads in the fight against poverty across our state. As a network of 18 community action, rural housing, and migrant service agencies serving all counties of Wisconsin, we urge the Assembly and Senate to work in a bi-partisan manner as it debates the final state budget.

Our network has been working on the issues of homelessness and housing affordability in Wisconsin for more than 30 years. Therefore, we are particularly encouraged by Governor Evers’ proposed investments in housing and his observation that “we have to understand how lack of access to affordable housing affects kids in the classroom.” The Governor has proposed a series of measures that would make a powerful impact on the state’s ability to address homelessness and housing insecurity. His budget includes more than a doubling of the state housing tax credit program, the creation of a $50 million affordable workforce housing grant program, and a substantial increase in grants to operate housing and support services for the homeless across the state. Moreover, the Governor is recommending the creation of a pilot program that gives priority to homeless children and their families on the housing voucher waiting list. Such a step would slowly begin to correct the imbalance embedded in national homeless policy that has excluded most children and families who do not meet an overly narrow definition of homelessness.

Further, the budget offers to help meet multiple needs of low-income populations in our rural and urban communities alike through a meaningful commitment to childcare and early education, job training and skills enhancement programming, and the expansion of youth apprenticeship opportunities. WISCAP’s network provides a full range of these same services and we stand ready to partner with the state, the private sector and civil society as we collectively tackle poverty and emerge from the challenges wrought by the pandemic. This is the time to invest in programs that help ensure economic security. Taken as a whole, the Governor’s budget represents a practical road map in helping Wisconsin get there.

Finally, while it contains many critical interventions and supports, if enacted, the Governor’s budget alone would not eliminate poverty in our state. Toward that end, WISCAP continues to support successful interventions such as the recent Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program (WRAP) and passage of the soon to be re-introduced Wisconsin Opportunity Act, comprehensive legislation designed to fight poverty in Wisconsin.

About WISCAP: The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) is the statewide association for Wisconsin’s sixteen (16) Community Action agencies and two single-purpose agencies with statewide focus. You can learn more about WISCAP at wiscap.org

 
WISCAP Welcomes Passage and Signing of COVID-19 Economic Relief Package

WISCAP Welcomes Passage and Signing of COVID-19 Economic Relief Package

December 29, 2020

The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) welcomes the passage of a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package, signed into law by President Trump on December 27, 2020. Among many important items, the stimulus package includes funding for COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, extension of the eviction moratorium, and emergency relief funds. These funds include critical rental, childcare, and food assistance.

“It is a relief that a second stimulus package has finally passed” Brad Paul, WISCAP Executive Director stated, “the extension of the eviction moratorium and the millions of dollars in rental assistance, combined with an extension of unemployment insurance will make a critical difference for thousands of Wisconsin households.”

When delivered effectively, rental assistance helps stabilize vulnerable households and prevent eviction and homelessness. From June through November 2020, WISCAP’s statewide network of Community Action Agencies played a critical role in the distribution of over $28 million dollars of CARES Act funding under the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program (WRAP). The program ultimately served over 14,000 Wisconsin households and assisted people in every county in the state.

“While the $600 direct payments included in the stimulus package fall short of many individual and family needs, extending unemployment, expanding broadband, increasing food assistance, and securing the eviction moratorium will buy critical time needed to get supports and services in place to prevent further suffering and economic dislocation in Wisconsin.” Paul stated. 

About WISCAP: The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP) is the statewide association for Wisconsin’s sixteen (16) Community Action agencies and two single-purpose agencies with statewide focus. You can learn more about WISCAP at wiscap.org

 
2019 WISCAP Annual Report

2019 WISCAP Annual Report

The 2019 WISCAP Annual Report gives a glimpse at the work Wisconsin’s Poverty Fighting Network accomplished in 2019.

A Letter from our Executive Director

Approximately one in ten Wisconsinites live in poverty. The Federal poverty threshold, the traditional measure of economic distress, classifies as ‘poor’ a household of three earning less than $21,330 per year. But using a broader measure of financial hardship, the recent United Way ALICE Study revealed that 34% of Wisconsinites struggle to afford the necessities of child care, health care, housing, food, and transportation. These are households living above the official poverty threshold, but not earning enough to afford basic household expenses. And then there are the families that often escape the view of most data systems such as the more than 18,000 homeless children and youth throughout the state identified by Wisconsin’s local school districts.

Just as the conditions or causes of poverty are diverse and unique in each individual, demographic, and community – so must be the strategies. Accordingly, we must craft policies and approaches that are appropriately responsive to these realities. The statewide network of sixteen local Community Action Agencies and two single purpose agencies is uniquely positioned to address the grinding poverty that exists in our rural, urban, and suburban communities alike. Toward this end, WISCAP spent much of 2019 listening carefully to the expressed needs of local communities in their fight against poverty and working with our partners and lawmakers to identify solutions. The result of this process was the introduction of the Wisconsin Opportunity Act, comprehensive anti-poverty legislation designed to reduce poverty and fundamentally improve people’s economic circumstances. Moving forward, WISCAP will continue to push for the enactment of this important legislation.

The day-to-day challenges of living in poverty are truly profound. The poor struggle with low-paying jobs, unemployment, high rents, homelessness, food insecurity, skipping doctor visits or needed medicines, and the lack of sick leave and retirement plans. Poverty inflicts a near-constant stress that silently assaults one’s dignity, health and emotional well-being. The people of our state who struggle in these circumstances deserve our respect — and our boldest, most innovative efforts to find solutions. 

Read the 2019 WISCAP Annual Report by visiting the WISCAP Annual Report page

 
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