New state program aims to provide struggling Michigan residents with rental assistance

COVID Emergency Rental Assistance program to address growing housing crisis across state

New online tool helps Michiganders apply for rental assistance

DETROIT – The state is rolling out a new online tool aimed at helping struggling renters stay in their homes.

It is all a part of a new program called COVID Emergency Rental Assistance aimed at addressing a growing crisis across the state.

Previous Coverage: Michigan renters, landlords can apply for assistance through new program

The number of people struggling to pay rent each month has grown into its own crisis during the pandemic.

Now the state’s new tool officially launched Friday aims at helping those people make ends meet.

The tool is meant to help get $282 million from the federal government with another $340 million expected to be approved by the state legislature into the hands of renters to help avoid eviction, pay back rent and make sure roofs stay over heads.

“We know there are thousands of renters and there are thousands of landlords that need this program,” said Kelly Rose with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

According to federal data, there are more than 1 million rental homes statewide and more than half are considered rent burdened meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. In Detroit renters outnumber homeowners.

“We have a whole lot of people who have not been able to pay the rent or their mortgage bills or their utility bills as they normally would have over the past year, and then to add on top of that, the normal support system that is there for lower income people who are in financial distress has not been as accessible as it normally would be,” said Joe McGuire with Detroit Eviction Defense.

But for a lot of renters there may be barriers to using the new online tool. They might be disabled or not have access to a reliable computer or the internet.

Others might not know some key information about their landlord like their email or physical address.

The state says local housing agencies are still taking paper applications for the money too.

Renters are only eligible if they make less than 80 percent of the area median income and have had some kind of COVID hardship. If approved renters can get assistance for up to a full year.

How to get help

For more on the program or to apply for help, click here.

About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.