Milwaukee Emergency Rent Assistance Program


The pandemic has put millions of people across the nation at risk of losing their homes. Our goal is to help those impacted by the pandemic stay in their homes so that renters and landlords can focus on getting back on their feet. The Milwaukee Emergency Rental Assistance (MERA) Program helps City of Milwaukee residents do just that.
If you experienced a financial loss due to the pandemic you may be able to get the following bills paid:
  • Current & Late Rent
  • Electricity Bill
  • Gas Bill
  • Water Bill
  • Security Deposit

We believe providing households with assistance is essential as we help local families impacted by the pandemic. Below you will find the eligibility criteria for assistance with housing costs and the process so you can know what to expect. We have made updates to our application process so that we can better serve you during these trying times.

What is MERA?

The Milwaukee Emergency Rental Assistance (MERA) program offers eligible City of Milwaukee households assistance with current or late rent, energy or utility bills, and other housing costs dating back to the start of the pandemic.​ Through MERA eligible households experiencing financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can qualify for the following help:
  • Up to 15 months of late rent payments or rental assistance including utilities covered by landlord within the rent. Lot rent for manufactured homes are allowable rental expenses.
  • Utility and energy payment and arrearages, including electricity, gas, and water bills.
  • Housing stability services and payments; security deposits.
  • Assistance may be provided for arrears that have accrued from March 13, 2020 to date.
Please note that the submission of an application does not guarantee approval for MERA assistance. All applications are carefully reviewed and must meet eligibility requirements. MERA is provided on a first-come, first-served basis and applications are subject to the availability of funding at the time of processing.

What is not covered?

  • Residence outside the City of Milwaukee
  • Mortgage payments

Who can apply?

Individuals and families who live in the City of Milwaukee, who have experienced income loss or costs due directly or indirectly to COVID-19, and meet the following criteria:
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Reside in the City of Milwaukee
  • Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a significant reduction in income, incurred significant costs, or experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • At-risk of becoming homeless or experiencing unstable housing
  • Has a household income at or below 80% Milwaukee County Median Income (CMI)
  • Households with income at or below 50% of Milwaukee County Median Family Income or includes an individual who has been unemployed for 90 days or more will be prioritized for assistance. Within those prioritized categories, households will be selected at random (not first come, first serve).

Application Process

For help with completing your MERA application, watch these helpful videos on:

How to Create an Account
Signing in to Your Account
How to Begin and Complete Your Application

The MERA application process can be completed by the landlord and the tenant on a computer, tablet, or mobile device.

Please note: After 30 days of inactivity, incomplete applications will be closed. 

Key information needed to complete the online application:

  • Applicant Information: gender, race, ethnicity, social security number (if applicable), household size, date of birth, military and disability status
  • Rental Property Information: address, lease type (month-to-month, annual), and rent amount
  • Landlord Information: name, address, phone number, and email
  • Income Sources for all Household Members: earned wages, SSI/SSDI, unemployment, etc.
  • Income Loss Information and Documentation

All applications are processed through our new online portal. Once you have created your profile inside the application portal, you can save your application at any time and come back to it.

If you need help or have questions regarding the application process, you can contact a member of our team at

*Please note that all services the Social Development Commission (SDC) provides are free of charge, including rental assistance application processing. Under no circumstances should you be asked for payment for our services. If you are asked for payment in order to receive or fast-track services, please do not provide this information. Immediately contact our team at 414-906-2777.

Step 1: Create a profile in the application portal.


Your profile will be unique to you and once it is created, you will be able to log on with your email and password to complete and save your application. You can also come back and check your application status.

Step 2: Complete the online application.
You will need to complete the application completely with all required information and documentation. You can save your application at any time and come back to complete it if necessary.

Step 3: Submit the online application.
Once the application and required documentation are completed, you will be prompted to submit the application. Once you have successfully submitted the application, you will receive an email confirmation immediately.

Step 4: Landlord verification.
Once your application is submitted, your landlord will receive an email notifying them that the request was made. The landlord will be asked for proof of residency, proof of ownership and other necessary information.

Step 5: Review process.
Following submission, one of our MERA team members will be assigned to review your application. They will reach out to you by email to get additional information as needed. Additional documentation may also be required. Remember, you can always check on your application status by logging into the online portal using your email and password.

Step 6: Decision notice.
If your rent assistance application is approved, you will receive an email confirmation and a rent payment assistance check will be mailed to the landlord.

Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If you are not eligible for rent assistance through this program, you will be notified of the reason why. You may contact us at to determine whether any adjustments can be made to your application to make it eligible for the MERA program.

How to Create an Account

How to Sign in to Your Account

How to Begin and Complete MERA Your Application

Landlord Information

As a Landlord, you have the ability to apply for rent assistance on behalf of your tenant.
CLICK HERE to apply on behalf of your tenant. 

If you are a Landlord and have questions please CLICK HERE

Berrada Properties logo

I am very appreciative of the work SDC is doing, being in contact with myself and my team. SDC’s work has stopped quite a few evictions in the last week alone. I look forward to continuing to communicate with SDC and helping tenants stay in their homes and avoid having an eviction put on their names.

Joe Berrada

Berrada Properties

Meet SDC MERA Client Shamicka

With her eviction date nearing, Shamicka’s landlord told her to contact SDC for assistance. Shamicka stopped into our office and received good news. Her rent was paid and she can stay in her home..

Please understand that we are continuing to do our part to keep families safe in their homes. If you have questions regarding your application, please email, call 414-906-2700 or stop into SDC’s main office at 1730 West North Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53205.

M.E.R.A. Funders & Partners

City of Milwaukee

City of Milwaukee logo

Supportive Services

The Social Development Commission has existed for more than 50 years empowering Milwaukee County residents with the resources to move beyond poverty. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are experiencing poverty.

We are built to help communities in crisis.

We are here to help those individuals and families find their pathway to success. We encourage you to check out some of our other services that may help you find your path, especially during these troubling times.

CR-Social Development Commission is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Service Provider and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation or belief. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. If you need this information interpreted to a language you understand or in a different format, please contact La Toya Jones, Equal Opportunity Officer, at 414-906-2823 or Callers who are deaf or hearing or speech-impaired may reach us at Wisconsin Relay Number 711.

SDC-Main Office
1730 West North Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53205

SDC-Chase Avenue
2968 South Chase Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53207

9155 North 76th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53223

9004 West Lincoln Avenue
West Allis, WI 53227

6850 North Teutonia Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53209

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