COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA)
How Does It Work?
The COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program provides rent and utility payment assistance to help renters who have fallen behind on their rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program is being administered by Holy Cross Services in partnership with Capital Area Housing Partnership, Advent House Ministries, Legal Services of South Central Michigan, Ingham County Continuum of Care, the City of Lansing, MSU Housing Law Clinic, and MSHDA.
Who is eligible?
CERA can serve 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.
How do I apply?
Those interested in participating must apply online or download an application below and submit their completed documents to Holy Cross Services.
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.
What documents will my 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
- Verification of court costs, if applicable
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).
Who is not eligible?
- Households that have incomes above 80% of Area Median Income.
- Households that cannot show a “COVID-19 hardship” 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.
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 internet, is that covered in this 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.
Wish To Apply?
Applications are available for download below:
For additional information, please visit the Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) page.
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