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.

Households experiencing homelessness can apply using our online application. They will need to identify which county they intend to rent in, and the application will be routed to the local service agency. Once an available rental home has been identified by the household, they must contact the service agency to give them the property and landlord's information so that the necessary application documents (lease, landlord W-9, etc) can be collected. Households can be assisted with security deposit, application fees and first three-month's rent. Additional months rent may be possible subject to CERA funds availability.

View our dashboard to see CERA application and approval information statewide and by county.  We also have demographic and household income information on our approved applications.  Check it out to see how CERA is serving renters and landlords in your area. [ See the CERA dashboard... ]

HOW LONG WILL THE CERA PROGRAM OPERATE?

At some point in the next few months, the CERA program will stop taking new applications once enough applications have been received to spend all the program funds. A specific date for closing the application portal has not yet been determined. More applications will be received than we have funding for, so some applications will not be able to be processed. The portal closure date will be posted on this site at least two weeks prior.

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 by being past due on rent.

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 state ID or passport for the tenant applicant (with proof of residency if address does not match the unit.) (Alternate IDs may be acceptable some circumstances)
  • Most current copy of lease agreement in tenant's name (if a written lease was completed.)
  • Provide all available proof of earned and unearned income for household members that live at the property and that are over the age of 18.
    • Pay stubs or benefit statements for household income or benefits (unemployment, Social Security, etc.) for two weeks, OR
    • Copy of submitted 2020 or 2021 IRS form 1040 (first two pages)
  • Copy of ALL utility statements the tenant is responsible for, if applicable.
  • Copy of Internet bill/statement, if applicable.

 

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
  • Landlords may be asked to provide ownership documents if ownership can't be verified through publicly available online property tax records

WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE?

  • Households that have incomes above 80% of Area Median Income.
  • Households that cannot show a "COVID-19 economic 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 were not behind rent before December 20, 2021.

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).

As of January 1, 2022, MSHDA will not be approving households that are solely behind on their utilities.  These households should apply for utility assistance through MDHHS at MI Bridges.

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 15 months of rental assistance
  • 50-80% AMI-up to 13 months of rental assistance
  • Tenants may apply for an additional 3 months of rental assistance if necessary, for housing stability so long as this does not exceed the 15 or 13-month maximums

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 18-months of assistance. Households that are not within this priority group are only eligible for 16-months of assistance.