Rent, mortgage assistance available in Lenawee County during pandemicDecember 3, 2021
ADRIAN — There has been a lot of housing assistance available during the pandemic and there is more to come, according to those working on keeping a roof over people’s heads.
Housing Help of Lenawee has been able to give out much in terms of rental and utility assistance, executive director Elizabeth Salerno said. The utility assistance covers everything from gas and electric to water and internet service. That program is facilitated by Community Action Agency, but the funding comes from Housing Help.
“To put it into perspective, at the end of last year, they basically told us, ‘Hey, the community is going to be getting $3.5 million for rental assistance with the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance or CERA program,’” Salerno said. “They since have given additional funds than what they originally thought. So it’s actually a little over $4 million that our community has received to assist with rental and utility assistance.”
Although the eviction moratorium was lifted months ago, there still are fewer restrictions to receive assistance through the federal CERA program.
“The main thing is you just have to prove that you’re living in a rental, and you have to either be behind on your rent or behind on your utilities. You don’t have to be in shutoff status. You don’t have to be in court-ordered eviction. So it’s a lot more loose as far as the restrictions go,” Salerno said. “They actually will allow us to assist people that are up to 80% of the area median income, which most of the pre-COVID funding, the cap was 30% of AMI. So the CERA program had a lot more flexibility.”
There is more funding coming down the pike as well as a program specifically for homeowners. It is all being facilitated through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
“So there will be another round of CERA funding coming within the next probably three to six months, worse case that will be for rental assistance, but there’s also going to be something; I don’t know if they’re going to call it CERA or something else. But essentially what MSHDA has told us is there will be a round coming, a second round that will be just for mortgages, where essentially it sounds like it’s going to function the same way as it does for renter, except for it’s supposed to be helping homeowners,” Salerno said.
Jessica Russell, program manager at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said that since the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government has also been offering mortgage forbearance to people who own their own homes.
“Basically, that lets a consumer or homeowner essentially pause their mortgage payments for a certain amount of time temporarily while they get back on their feet, and then at the end of the forbearance, they work with their mortgage servicer to figure out how to become current again,” Russell said. “There are different ways that can happen. Sometimes it’s by…