With COVID-19 cases currently surging in Wisconsin, and many individuals facing a wide array of hardships, this week I am bringing you a collection of resources that I hope can help you in these trying times.
Many individuals are also facing challenges in providing enough food for their families currently. There are a number of services currently that you can use, if you are one of many who need assistance.
- First of all, FoodShare is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) that assists families in purchasing quality food. if you are not currently enrolled in FoodShare benefits, you can apply for those benefits here. You can also call (888) 947-6583 between 7:30am and 5:00pm Monday-Friday. If you do not want to enter your information, but still wish to know your eligibility, the DHS has listed the monthly income requirements for FoodShare here.
- Wisconsin also provides The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). TEFAP is a supplementary food assistance service that is separate from FoodShare. TEFAP provides short-term relief, and packages consist of 3-5 days of food. Find more information by calling 2-1-1.
- The Wisconsin Hunger Task Force has multiple programs to assist vulnerable community members with nutrition assistance. The Hunger Task Force also provides Stockboxes, a program that allows households with an individual age 60 or older to receive nutrition packages. More information about Stockbox can be found here. The Hunger Task Force has also put together a map of all available food pantries, locations for Stockboxes, and other food resources in Milwaukee County. The interactive map can be found here.
- Milwaukee Public Schools also provide pre-packaged school meals (breakfast and lunch) for children under age 18. Parents can pick up these meals daily at participating MPS schools.
- Southeastern Wisconsin residents can call 2-1-1 if they have questions about food or other services. 2-1-1 can be called 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and an operator will assist in any way possible.
I know that many of you may wonder whether or not you should get tested. According to the CDC, if you currently experience symptoms of COVID-19, or have come into contact with an individual that has tested positive for COVID-19, then you should be tested. If you are not sure on whether or not you need to be tested, you can complete the Wisconsin DHS COVID Screening located here.
Once you determine that you need to be tested, you have multiple options on how to get tested. Firstly, you can contact your primary healthcare provider and ask if they have any available appointments for COVID testing. Make sure your testing is covered by your insurance. There are many testing sites available in Milwaukee County and throughout Wisconsin. These testing sites in the link include community testing locations which don’t require an appointment and other sites. Any change in availability in community testing sites can be found here.
Preventing Eviction and Financial Resources
COVID-19 has also sent our nation into an eviction crisis. With millions of Americans still out of work, there are many who fear being sent out onto the street during a pandemic. It’s even more dangerous in Milwaukee, as we are about to enter winter, the time when families need safe housing the most. There are services in place for assistance to those that are facing homelessness.
- Wisconsin Works (W-2) is a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program that provides employment preparation services and cash assistance to low income families and pregnant women. To apply for W-2, you must contact a local office, which is dependent upon where you live. You can find out the office districts and their contact information here.
- Another service that can be used to help pay rent is Emergency Assistance (EA). EA is a one-time payment that can be awarded for a variety of crises, including fire, flood, homelessness, or energy crises. In order to be eligible for EA, the family must have at least one child in the home, and meet the income requirements. You can contact the local W-2 Agency and apply for EA here. For Wisconsin TANF benefits, various documents may be needed in order to apply. A brochure of all necessary documents for each type of assistance can be found here.
- Community Advocates has many resources for families facing eviction, or have disputes with their landlords concerning a wide variety of issues. They also run a family support center emergency shelter, offer rent assistance, and provide multiple resources for endangered women, including a women’s shelter. A list of all their available resources, and how to get in contact with them can be found here.
- Milwaukee County has provided emergency energy assistance for individuals who need assistance paying heat and energy bills. With winter right around the corner, many families are in danger of having their heat turned off when they need it most. In order to apply for assistance, you will need a photo ID, Social Security numbers for all individuals in the home, proof of income for all individuals in the home, and proof of utility costs. For full information and to apply, refer to the Milwaukee County infographic here, or visit their page.
- Southeastern Wisconsin residents can call 2-1-1 if they have questions about housing, utilities, or other services. 2-1-1 can be called 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and an operator will assist in any way possible.
- If you have exhausted all reasonable options, and you still face eviction, you may be eligible for eviction protection under CDC’s order to halt evictions due to COVID-19. Information on eligibility for eviction protection can be found here.
COVID-19 has made 2020 a difficult year. Many Milwaukee residents are facing a wide array of crises that endanger themselves and their families. I hope that the resources I have provided can assist you or someone you know and protect them from eviction, COVID-19, or help them become more food secure. I will continue to advocate for Milwaukee in Congress and fight for legislation that protects the basic needs of its citizens. Please remember to stay safe during the pandemic, and take precautions such as washing your hands, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing.