A conservative law firm has questioned the legality of a mortgage assistance program announced by Gov. Tony Evers last year — and questioned the program’s intent to channel federal funds to people of color as discriminatory.
This was announced by the Democratic governor Wisconsin Help for Homeowners program in August. It is intended to provide approximately $92.7 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to eligible homeowners statewide. The program is designed to help alleviate financial hardship related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by preventing mortgage defaults, defaults, foreclosures, and loss of utility and energy services.
The federal government directs states to provide grants to homeowners whose income is 100% or less of the median income for their household size. However, states can increase the income entitlement pool to those earning 150% of the region’s median income if funding is allocated to “socially disadvantaged” individuals, defined by the federal government as Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans and pacific islanders. Other people would not be eligible.
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 is under the U.S. Constitution and the states is illegal.