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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Displaced Tenants Struggle to Find Housing in Madison

A group of investors recently purchased rental housing units on Madison’s Southwest Side, causing many current tenants to be forced out due to increases in rent and stricter tenant screening, according to an article from Wisconsin State Journal.

The article states that “the new owners took to upgrading the units while also raising the rents and tightening the leasing standards. They told neighbors they intend to turn around a troubled area, and they are doing just that, many say approvingly. Yet the improvements have come with a cost. Many leases have been terminated, thrusting some people, including children, into homelessness.”

Tenants in the Orchard Village Apartments complex were required to reapply at the end of their leases, and many of these tenants have received non-renewals of their leases as a result.

The article touches briefly on the racial inequalities at play in this process, echoing much of what Matthew Desmond observes in Evicted about the racially charged rental market in Milwaukee. One of the women interviewed for the article, who was received a non-renewal of her lease, said “she can’t help noticing that almost all of the tenants not renewed have been black, while the new residents moving in, at least in her building, have been white.” The new owner of the apartment complex has denied this statement.

Not everyone has been critical of the apartment complex’s new owner, however. One tenant, now in her third year living at Orchard Village, said that “I’m liking the changes…things had become really chaotic and a lot of stuff was going on. I had a break-in, and there were shootings.”

The new ownership of many of these apartment complexes on Madison’s Southwest Side will certainly bring many more changes to the neighborhood, potentially both positive and negative.

 

You can read the full article, entitled “Landlord walks fine line between ‘taking back the neighborhood’ and creating homelessness,” here.