The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's federal moratorium on evictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic is set to expire at the end of the month. Now, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority is trying to get rental assistance to Michiganders before the June 30 deadline.
Michigan received $622 million in federal funding for rental assistance at the beginning of the year. The state Legislature appropriated $282 million of those funds in March, with the other $340 million to be appropriated at a later date. So far, MSHDA says it's spent $42 million of those funds.
With those funds, MSHDA created the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance program, or CERA. The agency says it has received about 32,000 applications, and has approved 6,000 of them.
Kelly Rose is the chief housing solutions officer at MSHDA. She says there's been uncertainty in the past about whether the moratorium would be extended, which creates a sense of urgency as the expiration date approaches.
"We’re basically planning that it won’t be extended," she says. "And really just trying to make sure that all of the cases that were already processed through eviction courts and already have judgements against them, that as many cases as possible are getting processed before June 30."
With the prioritization of cases that have already been approved for eviction, Rose says MSHDA has the goal of processing 2,000-3,000 applications per week, and they've managed about half that so far.
According to MSHDA, Wayne County is home to the largest number of applicants for emergency rental assistance, with 14,000 applications received. The next three counties are Oakland, Macomb, and Kent counties, with 2,400, 1,900, and 1,700 applications respectively. The average household size of applicants for emergency rental assistance is two and a half people, and on average each household is receiving $6,200.
Rose says they want Michiganders to know about the rental assistance program, and to apply as soon as possible to get people the funds as early as they can in the eviction process.
"We are feeling that crunch as well as our local service agencies to try to make sure that, you know, we’re getting as efficient as possible with processing applications, and really trying to make sure that people know that the program is out there," she says.
A landlord or a tenant can start a CERA application. To be eligible, the household must have an income below 80% of the area median income, and have experienced a COVID-related hardship, like loss of income or unemployment. A risk of homelessness or housing instability as demonstrated by a past due utility or rent notice also qualifies a household for aid.