Is Milwaukee's Eviction Spike 'the Canary in the Coal Mine'?

July 14, 2020

Wisconsin joined numerous states in passing protections against evictions at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, after its moratorium expired in late May, the city of Milwaukee saw a significant spike in eviction cases, a trend that some worry might be repeated elsewhere as more eviction bans come to an end.

Shortly after the moratorium ended in Wisconsin, evictions in Milwaukee shot up immediately, data shows. 

Legal Action of Wisconsin, a legal aid group that handles eviction cases among other matters, also recorded a similar spike. An attorney with the organization said that according to its numbers, evictions in the state were up 24% in June 2020 over June 2019, and up 26% in Milwaukee. 

Mark Silverman, an attorney with Legal Action Wisconsin, told Law360 that he did not see the recent spike as the system only "catching up" with the numbers the city would typically have seen by this point in the year.

"My sense is that it's an increase in new filings," he said.

"We're treating Milwaukee as the canary in the coal mine, we suspect that Milwaukee is the beginning, but that will depend on what actions are taken this month and next month," said Alieza Durana of Princeton University's Eviction Lab.

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