2023 Report - New Partnerships in Sun Prairie

Working with Sunshine Place offers new opportunities to connect with tenants where they are along with a wide variety of other services, programs, and community partners.

In January 2024, TRC not only opened its doors in a new, much larger office on the East Side of Madison but we also opened a new space in Sun Prairie. TRC is now in Sun Prairie at Sunshine Place three days a week, with bilingual staff on site two of those days. This expansion is an important part of serving our mission – we are making our services more accessible to more people, and we are collaborating with partners to better serve the community.

In May 2023, Sunshine Place and the City of Sun Prairie asked TRC if we would lead a training on evictions. At that training, we met partners and tenants not only from Sun Prairie but also surrounding areas such as Marshall and DeForest. Many of the tenants at the training were Spanish speakers. We were thrilled when Sunshine Place and the City wanted to figure out a way for our staff to be in their community more frequently. With the help of dedicated staff and financial support from Sun Prairie and Dane County, we were able to quickly make the plan a reality.

Sun Prairie, along with other areas surrounding the City of Madison, is often overlooked when it comes to availability of services and programs. Currently, the City of Sun Prairie faces a number of challenges to housing stability, including properties where management has changed several times in the past few years leaving tenants with reduced access to their landlord, significant issues with the quality of housing due to lacking attention from landlords to building inspection requirements, and increased displacement due to eviction filings and a slow economic recovery from the pandemic.

Being at Sunshine Place allows our staff to meet people where they are. Traveling into Madison is a barrier for a lot of people due to transportation, childcare, inability to take time off work, cost of gas, among other reasons. TRC’s staff will be able to provide housing counseling, eviction court support, rental assistance, housing support, and outreach to tenants, landlords, and general community members who may not otherwise be able to easily reach us.
We also joined an existing collaboration operating in this space. Sunshine Place offers a wide array of human services, food related services, and child outreach, including housing navigation, financial assistance, a legal clinic, food pantry, and clothing, school supplies, and beds. In addition, staff from Centro Hispano, Joining Forces for Families, and Public Health Madison & Dane County have offices at Sunshine Place. Community members can reach several providers in one location. Working alongside these organizations also helps TRC be better informed about resources to help tenants we work with at all our locations and provides opportunities for us to share our knowledge about rental rights and responsibilities with other providers.

Opportunities to partner with communities around Dane County has been a goal of the Tenant Resource Center throughout the pandemic. Many of these areas faced serious challenges during the rollout of financial assistance programs, such as the Dane CARES and Dane CORE rental assistance programs, with many tenants unable to access the technology needed to complete applications for assistance. Many tenants lacked access to the necessary services to avail themselves of protections, such as the CDC Eviction Moratorium, responses to eviction notices, and information about their rental rights under the CARES Act. Through each of these challenges, TRC has strived to build partnerships in the community, such as local libraries, nonprofit organizations, and community groups to provide access to technology, resources, and services.

Partnering with the City of Sun Prairie has already expanded the reach of our services significantly, with many more opportunities in the coming months. We’ve been able to join the Distressed Properties working group, expand our outreach to landlords, and navigate issues with the City’s building inspector.

We look forward to working with the Sun Prairie community and continue to explore other opportunities to expand our services across Dane County.