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How you can apply for Michigan's new rental assistance program

Posted at 5:19 AM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 05:43:57-04

(WXYZ) — Much-needed help is coming for thousands of metro Detroit families worried about eviction.

The state's Housing Development Authority announced $622 million in federal money to keep Michiganders in their homes. It's expected to help around $50,000 households, just as the federal eviction moratorium is about to expire. It's in place through the end of the month.

This new program, COVID emergency rental assistance (CERA), is replacing the state's eviction dispersion program which ended in December. That program is estimated to have helped around 15,000 households, so the scope of this is significant.

“These types of programs are here and we pay taxes specifically for these to be able to help people in their time of need," Chief Housing Solutions Officer Kelly Rose said.

CERA is designed to keep Michigan families in their homes if they're struggling to make rent or pay utilities. It's also designed to help landlords recoup losses.

In all, $622 million in federal dollars is going to Michigan through the program, of which $560 million will go directly toward rent and utility help.

Who qualifies? The household has to make less than 80% of the area median income, and that adjusts by county and household size.

For example, in Wayne County, that's less than $44,000 for a single-person and less than $62,000 for a family of four.

Applicants must also show they've been financially impacted by the pandemic. That can be proof of a loss of income or increased expenses.

Applicants must also show they're facing housing instability. This can be something like a rent back notice or a bill showing you're behind on utilities. It doesn't have to be both.

“Really any time in the last year if they were on unemployment or if they had reduced income or increased expenses or another financial hardship," Rose said.

Both landlords and tenants need to complete a CERA application and provide certain documentation when they apply. You can do so at michigan.gov/cera.

How much help can each person or household get? The state estimates the average CERA payout could be as much as $10,000, a little more than three times the help available under the previous eviction diversion program.

Now, this federal money does have to be used. The state has to use 65% of it, around $405 million, by Sept. 20.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.