Kelly Rose, chief housing solutions officer at the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), answered some questions about the extension of the eviction moratorium in the state and talked about a special program through the MSHDA that can provide rental assistance for tenants facing pandemic-related financial hardships, while also ensuring landlords can recoup owed rent.
What is the situation regarding evictions in Michigan now, as the CDC has extended the moratorium?
A new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eviction moratorium is now in place and is effective Aug. 3 until Oct. 3. However, new counties can be added to or be removed from the moratorium protections on an ongoing basis until Oct. 3, so that’s why we urge anyone who owes back rent to apply today to help maintain their housing stability. It’s vitally important for tenants to understand the moratorium does not provide rent forgiveness. While some may have a temporary pause in making payments, the rent is still owed and accumulating. That’s why action taken today can help prevent eviction later.
Please tell us more on how the CERA program can help those renters. What do renters need to know to apply for this assistance? How does it help landlords recoup that back rent?
The COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program offers up to 12 months of rental assistance on owed rent and up to three months of assistance for future rent. Renters can also get help paying for utilities and Internet through the program. Only applicants with incomes less than 80 percent of the area median income qualify for CERA and they must be able to show proof of COVID-related financial hardships – which can range from losing a job or having hours cut because of the pandemic to having to buy PPE.
It’s important to note that renters aren’t the only ones who can initiate the application process. Landlords can also start the application process as a way to recoup owed rent from tenants and be made whole.
Tenants in need of legal aid assistance may visit Welcome to Michigan Legal Help for additional information, including how to contact their local legal services office.
We encourage renters and landlords to apply for CERA as soon as possible. Renters and landlords interested in applying can visit www.michigan.gov/CERA to apply online or learn more about qualifications. Applications are available in multiple languages, including Arabic.
The state of Michigan was allocated $622 million as part of the federal coronavirus aid package passed in Dec. 2020 to be used on rental and utility assistance and the accompanying administrative and legal fees. – Kelly Rose, MSHDA
How long will the MSHDA continue to provide this assistance?
We will continue to offer CERA and accept applications as long as we still have funds remaining to provide assistance to those in need. We have until Sept. 30, 2022 to expend the funds.
The state of Michigan was allocated $622 million as part of the federal coronavirus aid package passed in Dec. 2020 to be used on rental and utility assistance and the accompanying administrative and legal fees. With those funds, we anticipate being able to help between 50,000 and 55,000 families, or 140,000 individuals, this year through CERA.
Is Michigan’s post-pandemic economic recovery in step with the economic mobility of vulnerable populations like renters? In other words, are there new and continued cases of renters struggling to make rent in the last few months as the state’s economy has opened up?
We have continued to see a steady stream of applications for CERA over the past several months – and we anticipate more to come as the Delta variant gains traction in our state and workers, business leaders and even government officials have to make tough decisions about how to curb the spread of the virus.
Safe, quality and affordable housing is a cornerstone of diverse, thriving communities. Through the CERA program, we can ensure both landlords and tenants have an opportunity to minimize financial repercussion created by the virus while also ensuring individuals and families maintain housing stability.
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