It seems that a number of GOP legislators in Wisconsin are real estate tycoons in their own small ponds…and aren’t beyond helping themselves prosper…maybe visions of being Donald Trump dance in their heads?

A series of sweeping laws promoting the interests of landlords at the expense of renters, local governments and even public safety have been pushed through the state Capitol since 2011 by a group of lawmakers who moonlight as landlords. 

Backed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos — a college-town landlord with 23 properties worth about $3.8 million — the Republican-controlled Legislature enacted five major bills largely benefiting landlords.  

The measures speed up the eviction process, eliminate some tenant legal defenses, limit the power of cities to police landlords and cap fees tied to building code violations. They also allow landlords to toss renters’ belongings on the curb immediately after an eviction, instead of placing the property in storage.

Call it the Landlords’ Legislature.

In all, about one out of five of state lawmakers who voted on these bills owns or manages rental properties, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found in its review. At least five lawmakers who double as landlords sponsored the various measures, each of which passed on mostly party-line votes.

So that just seems like greed and corruption so far…where is the irony? Well, author Matthew Desmond was just in Milwaukee explaining to religious leaders about the eviction crisis in the US and Milwaukee in particular.

Matthew Desmond, an award-winning reporter on the Milwaukee housing crisis, calls evictions one of America’s most devastating problems.

And in a keynote presentation Saturday in Milwaukee, Desmond told ministers from across the country what they could do about it.

The presentation was part of the United Church of Christ’s General Synod, a biennial governance meeting held this year at the Wisconsin Center.

Desmond centered the talk around his Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,”which documents the struggles faced by eight Milwaukee families in their search for housing.

He told the leaders gathered at the General Synod how government programs designed to help families looking for affordable housing were failing. According to Desmond, the consensus in America is that we should spend 30% of our income on housing. But today the majority of poor renting families spend over half their income on housing costs.

While the data is still incomplete, the lab learned that in 2016 2.3 million Americans lived in homes that received eviction notices. Every two years in Milwaukee, one in eight renters is evicted.

The base of the eviction epidemic, according to Desmond, is mothers, especially African American mothers with children. The chance of eviction triples if the renter has children.

Desmond argued that in order to have more stable communities, we need fewer evictions. Evictions can stain a family’s record and prevent them from moving not only into good neighborhoods but also public housing. They lead to job loss and mental stress. Ultimately they are a cause of poverty, not just a condition. 

So amidst a housing crisis in America…the Wisconsin legislature…to further enrich themselves…had decided to pile on. Shame.

One Response to Let’s Move On To Irony And The GOP In Wisconsin

  1. Edward Susterich says:

    The link above is about Sen. Duey Stroebel– another Wisconsib politicion who promotes real estate/landlord interests. Stroebel received many $$$’s in campaign contributions for that effort, but I wonder if he returned money from the Wisconsin Realtor Association after they recinded endorsement of Hegadorn– an action very upsetting to ultra-conservative Stroebel.

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