COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA)

The State of Michigan’s COVID Emergency Rental Assistance Program (“the Program”) is designed to keep
Michigan residents who fell behind on their rent and utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic in their
homes. The program utilizes a collaborative community process to expedite rental and utility assistance to
COVID-19 affected tenants and their landlords.

Service Agencies - Community Housing Network, Lighthouse MI, and OLHSA will work with tenants and landlords to provide rental, utility and internet assistance for eligible renter households. Legal services for renters will be provided by local legal aid organizations funded by grants made through the Michigan State Bar Foundation.

You can also check out the MSHDA CERA website for information.

English Version of CERA Flyer
This flyer is subject to change
Spanish Version of CERA Flyer
This flyer is subject to change
Arabic CERA Flyer
This flyer is subject to change
More Resources
The best way to apply is by using the online portal.
 
If you would like to apply online please click the PORTAL button.
Once you are in the portal, application language can be changed from English to Spanish or Arabic
If you want a paper application please click on TENANT APPLICATION to be able to print
Tenant Application for Additional Assistance

Or pick up applications at the locations listed below.

  • OLHSA; 196 Cesar E. Chavez Ave, Pontiac MI, 48342

  • Lighthouse’s Lathrup Village Office; 18505 W 12 Mile Rd, Lathrup Village, MI 48076

  • Community Housing Network; 5505 Corporate Dr #300, Troy, MI 48098

Submit applications based on your zip code!

  • Pontiac (48340, 48341, 48342, 48343) submit to OLHSA

  • Oak Park (48237), Royal Oak Township (48220), Royal Oak (48067, 48068, 48069, 48071) Huntington Woods (48070), Pleasant Ridge (48069), Ferndale (48069, 48220) Hazel Park (48071) and Berkley (48072 ) submit to Lighthouse MI

  • For all other Oakland County cities submit to Community Housing Network

  • For a full list of zip codes, Click here.

FOR LANDLORDS ONLY
Please click on OWNER/LANDLORD APPLICATION for a paper version. This can also be completed through the PORTAL located above

You can drop off your application at the following agencies:

  • ​OLHSA; 196 Cesar E. Chavez Ave, Pontiac MI, 48342  

  • Lighthouse MI; 18505 W 12 Mile Rd, Lathrup Village, MI 48076

  • Community Housing Network; 5505 Corporate Dr #300, Troy, MI 48098

Click HERE for Landlord informational video

Click HERE for Landlord Webinar

If you have additional questions or need help with the application:

1-888-441-1742

Who is eligible?

CERA can serve renter households that have incomes less than 80% of Area Median Income 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.

What documents are needed to show 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.

 

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What do landlords 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

What about utilities?

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

 

Tenants up to 50% AMI are eligible for an additional $500 if needed to fully pay utility arrears.

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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

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.

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.

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.

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.