Some regional nonprofits administering Gov. Tony Evers’ $322 million emergency rental assistance program may be unintentionally discouraging non-U.S. citizens from applying — even though immigration status holds no bearing on eligibility for the federally financed program. At least eight of the 14 organizations administering the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance (WERA) program ask applicants to share their Social Security numbers through pre-screening forms, a Wisconsin Watch review has found. The eight agencies administer aid to 35 of Wisconsin’s 68 WERA-eligible counties. Advocates say Social Security number queries could deter struggling renters who are among Wisconsin’s roughly 75,000 undocumented immigrants — an economically vulnerable group that in 2016 comprised about 24% of the state’s immigrant population and 1.3% of the total population.
Reporting by Vanessa Swales. Originally published March 29, 2021.Support Wisconsin Watch