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Michigan Appropriates $60 Million for Rent Assistance Due to COVID-19

For three months landlords and property managers have been prevented from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent. While many tenants have been able to pay their rent in full or make partial payments, there were many that were unable to pay due to an inability to get unemployment or where they had their wages significantly cut or both. In that regard, the RPOA of Michigan, the RPOA of Kent County and other statewide associations representing property managers worked diligently with Governor Whitmer’s office to establish funding to provide rental assistance to mitigate the impact of loss of income for these families and property owners.

$60 million was approved by the Michigan legislature last week in a new appropriation bill. The funding will be used as part of an eviction prevention program with funding going directly to the landlord or property management company. The goal of the effort is to get ahead of an eviction by not requiring a judgement be rendered before funding is provided. While the RPOA does not have the detailed and final specifics of how the funds will be disbursed, discussions on that topic included:

  • making the funds available upon the issuance of a summons;
  • providing 50-80% of the total rent past due;
  • provide for an agreement between the landlord and tenant to pay the remaining rent due over the next 12 months;
  • allowing judges to determine which tenants are eligible for assistance;
  • dismiss the eviction case if funding is provided;
  • the program will be voluntary for landlords and property managers.

 
The date upon which funds will be released has not yet been announced but administration of the funds on a local basis will be carried out by the Housing Assessment and Resource Agency (HARA) located within each county. In Kent County, the HARA is the Salvation Army which currently provides assistance for the homeless and eviction prevention. The RPOA has reached out to the Salvation Army to offer any assistance it can provide in the effort to assist with eviction prevention. A list of the HARAs located in each county of the state can be found here.

Those involved with promoting the new funding know that sixty million dollars is not likely enough to cover all the needs throughout the state. There is hope that additional funding may be forthcoming from the Federal government to provide for further assistance—especially as the unemployment bonus expires at the end of July.

 

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