COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA)

cera banner

Having trouble paying or receiving rent? MSHDA has federal funds available to help tenants facing pandemic-related hardships avoid eviction while also ensuring landlords can recoup owed rent through the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program. MSHDA administers CERA through its statewide network of local nonprofit agencies. We encourage everyone who is eligible to apply today and take advantage of a program that can help restore housing stability.

CERA online application now available!!

The tenant or landlord can initiate the online application process. The tenant or landlord will need to enter the tenant's name, address and email address, and the landlord's email address. This will initiate emails to both the tenant and landlord for them to complete their portion of the application. Service agencies will communicate via email with the tenant and landlord if additional information is needed. The tenant and landlord will receive notice via email when the case is processed and how much funding has been approved.

In a few weeks, the application will be updated so the landlord can complete all "Tenant" and "Landlord" application fields and uploads, and the tenant will receive an email to confirm the application is true and correct.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

CERA serves renter households that have incomes less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) who meet the following conditions:

  • Individual(s) in the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or has experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the coronavirus outbreak; and
  • Individual(s) in the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability evidenced by a past due utility or rent notice.

WHY SHOULD I APPLY FOR RENT RELIEF NOW? AREN'T RENTERS AUTOMATICALLY PROTECTED BY THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL EVICTION MORATORIUM UNTIL JUNE 30, 2021?

  • The moratorium protects against eviction when invoked by the tenant but does not help tenants pay their arrears. Applying to CERA will help pay arrears now and avoid possible eviction later.
  • If tenants do not invoke the moratorium, they could still face eviction for nonpayment of rent. Applying to CERA can help pay arrears for filed evictions and could ultimately help avoid eviction.
  • Some landlords may still attempt to file an eviction for nonpayment of rent, even if the tenant invokes the moratorium. Applying to CERA can help pay arrears for filed evictions and could ultimately help avoid eviction.

HOW DO I APPLY?

  • Use the secure online application portal ("Apply Now" button above) to submit your application for assistance.
  • This is the best way to apply for those that have a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Tenants and landlords can also apply through their local service agency.
  • If you cannot apply online, please see the CERA Contact List for the service agency in your county (at the top of this page under CERA Resources).

What tenant documents are required to determine eligibility?

  • Completed CERA Tenant application.
  • Copy of past-due rent notice, a notice to quit or a court ordered summons, complaint or judgement.
  • Copy of state ID or passport for the tenant applicant (with proof of residency if address does not match the unit.) (Alternate IDs are acceptable.)
  • Most current copy of lease agreement in tenant's name (if a written lease was completed.)
  • Provide all proof of earned and unearned income for household members that live at the property and that are over the age of 18.
  • Household income/benefits (unemployment, SSI, etc.) for one month, OR
  • Copy of submitted 2020 IRS form 1040 (first two pages) OR
  • Food Assistance Program Notice of Case Action form (only applicable for households with 3 or less people.)
  • Copy of ALL utility statements the tenant is responsible for, if applicable.
  • Copy of Internet bill/statement, if applicable.

Type of COVID Hardship

Best Documents to Show Proof

Alternate Documents to Show Proof

A member of my household qualified for unemployment after March 13, 2020

Unemployment Monetary Determination Letter OR screen shots from unemployment website showing payments and person's name

Signed letter from applicant stating the time period they received unemployment benefits

A member of my household has had a reduction in income after March 13, 2020

Signed letter from applicant outlining your original hours and pay rate and reduced hours and pay rate during the COVID outbreak

 

A member of my household has incurred significant costs after March 13, 2020

Signed letter from applicant stating what type and amounts of increased expenses the household incurred during the COVID outbreak

A member of my household experienced other financial hardship after March 13, 2020

Signed letter from applicant stating what type of financial hardship they occurred during the COVID outbreak

 

WHAT DOCUMENTS WILL THE LANDLORD NEED TO PROVIDE?

Landlords will need to provide:

  • Completed CERA Landlord Application
  • Copy of the lease (if a written lease was completed)
  • Ledger showing tenant's payment history in 2020 and 2021
  • W-9
  • Verification of court costs, if applicable

WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE?

  • Households that have incomes above 80% of Area Median Income.
  • Households that cannot show a "COVID-19 hardship" (outlined above) or risk of homelessness or housing instability.
  • Households that are homeowners, land contract holders or those that live in commercial properties.
  • Renter households that are not behind on either rent or utility bills.

MY LANDLORD HAS FILED FOR EVICTION. CAN I GET LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR MY COURT CASE?

Yes, free legal assistance is available with the CERA program. Please go to www.michiganlegalhelp.org to get connected to a legal services agency in your area.

CAN I GET HELP WITH MY UTILITIES?

Yes, eligible households for CERA can receive utility assistance for tenant supplied electricity, home heating (any type of fuel), water, sewer and trash (if billed along with another utility).

Utility Assistance

Household Size

Maximum Total One Time Utility Payment
(Includes Future Payment)

Maximum Future Utility Payment as a Credit

1-2 persons

$1,500

$300

3-4 persons

$2,000

$500

5+ persons

$2,500

$500

Tenants up to 50% AMI are eligible for an additional $500 if needed to fully pay utility arrears.

HOW MUCH RENTAL ASSISTANCE CAN I RECEIVE?

  • Up to 50% AMI-up to 12 months of rental assistance
    • Included within the 12 months, 3 months can be used for future rent assistance
  • 50-80% AMI-up to 10 months of rental assistance
    • Included within the 10 months, 3 months can be used for future rent assistance
  • Tenants may apply for an additional 3 months of rental assistance if necessary, for housing stability

IS THERE ANY LIMIT ON HOW MUCH PER MONTH I CAN RECEIVE?

Yes, the program limit is 150% of the HUD Fair Market Rent based on your home size and county.

I NEED HELP PAYING FOR HOME INTERNET, IS THAT COVERED IN THE PROGRAM?

Yes, a flat $300 internet stipend is available for households that have home internet and include a recent internet bill/statement in their application package. The $300 payment will be made to either the Internet service provider or the tenant.

LOCAL PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION

Based on consultation with MSHDA, local programs may administer the CERA program with additional rules to coincide with existing local codes/ordinances so long as these additional rules do not conflict with US Treasury regulations or slow the pace of serving eligible tenants and landlords.

PRIORITIZATION OF HOUSEHOLDS

The federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program requires a prioritization of assistance for households with incomes less than 50% of area median income or households with one or more individuals that have not been employed for the 90-day period preceding the date of application. MSHDA has implemented this prioritization by reserving 70% of CERA program funds for these households as well as allowing the full 15-months of assistance. Households that are not within this priority group are only eligible for 13-months of assistance.