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State, county and local officials’ joint effort results in recapture of COVID Emergency Rental Assistance funds
March 21, 2023
Katie Bach, Bachk@michigan.gov
Anna Vicari, VicariA@michigan.gov
Calhoun County Contact:
David Gilbert, firstname.lastname@example.org
LANSING, Mich. -- The Calhoun County Prosecutor's office, together with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and the Battle Creek Police Department, successfully prosecuted landlord Shane Sampson for committing fraud with a MSHDA tenant and landlord assistance program.
Sampson admitted to providing false information to MSHDA on multiple program applications and fraudulently obtaining $8,850 in program funds from the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program. He recently pleaded guilty to the charges and paid restitution, closing out the case.
The CERA program, now closed to new applicants, was established to assist Michigan residents with rental arrears, due to financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 13, 2021, to present, MSHDA has processed 305,807 CERA applications and provided more than $978.2 million in aid to help Michigan families prevent eviction while also ensuring landlords could recoup owed rent.
“This program has provided much-needed peace of mind to renters and landlords. It’s unfortunate anyone would try to fraudulently take funds away from those that needed it to catch up on their rent and utility costs and maintain housing stability,” said MSHDA Executive Director Amy Hovey. “We take our stewardship of CERA program funds seriously and have dedicated teams of investigators who pursue all allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse within the program. Through the efforts of the CERA fraud investigation unit, MSHDA was able to recover program funds obtained illegally by this landlord and will work with our partners across the state to root out fraud, waste, and abuse with any of our MSHDA programs.”
The public is encouraged to report any suspected fraud, waste, or abuse in any MSHDA housing programs to the MSHDA fraud hotline at: 517-335-9953 or online using the MSHDA fraud complaint form https://www.michigan.gov/mshda/about/performance/how-to-report-fraud.