A conservative law firm has questioned the legality of a mortgage assistance program announced last year by Gov. Tony Evers — challenging the program’s intention to steer federal funds toward people of color as discriminatory.
The Democratic governor announced the Wisconsin Help for Homeowners program in August. It’s set to provide about $92.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to eligible homeowners across the state. The program is intended to help mitigate financial hardships associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by preventing mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures and loss of utilities and energy services.
The federal government directs states to provide the grants to homeowners with incomes equal to or less than 100% of the area median income for their household size. However, states can increase the income eligibility pool to those earning 150% of the area median income if funding is allocated to “socially disadvantaged” individuals, which is defined by the federal government as Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Other individuals would be ineligible.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a nonprofit conservative law firm founded in 2011, sent a letter to Evers Wednesday claiming that the state’s plan to follow federal guidelines would be illegal under the U.S. and state constitutions.
By and large, the delivery of and access to legal services is broken. Too slowly, jurisdictions throughout the U.S. are beginning to consider ways to improve access to justice, with non-attorney ownership of law firms a leading candidate for institutional improvement. There was hope in 2021 that Florida—our home state—would […]