Rent assistance recipients are paying an average of $2,700 more for a home that is up for rent in the state, according to a new report.
Wisconsin renters in the fourth quarter of 2019 were paying an additional $2.9 million more than renters in those same four-year periods last year.
Wisconsin landlords were paying $2 million more for the same home.
The rental assistance program provides cash assistance to low- and moderate-income families and individuals to help them pay for the cost of rent and other housing expenses.
The average rental assistance recipient in Wisconsin, or one in five renters, paid an additional of $1,800 in 2017, according the report.
Rents were up $300, or 9 percent, in the first three quarters of 2019.
In 2019, landlords in Wisconsin paid a total of $3.5 million more in rent than they did in 2016.
The report comes a month after the state reported it had a $5.3 billion shortfall in its rent assistance program.
Wisconsin state Rep. Jennifer Cramer, D-Milwaukee, says landlords in her district are being forced to spend more on rent, which has been a focus of her work.
“There are people in my district who are paying rent for the first time.
It’s just ridiculous that people are being taxed so much more,” she said.
Cramer said she and her Republican colleagues are trying to pass a bill that would allow tenants to deduct the costs of a home they are renting from their rent assistance payments.
She said that would help homeowners with smaller families, but not for renters.
Citing the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn a lower court’s ruling that required landlords to provide more rental assistance for tenants, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association said the issue is “growing increasingly important to the entire state.”
“While landlords may not have been able to afford the higher rent costs in the past, they now have to pay them,” said Lori Paz, senior vice president of government relations for the Wisconsin State Restaurant Association.
“The Wisconsin Restaurant and Lodging Association is asking lawmakers to protect Wisconsin’s renters.”
Paz said that the Wisconsin Association of Realtors and the Wisconsin Home Builders Association have been working on a resolution that would provide a temporary exemption for landlords who are forced to make rents higher.