Advocacy Update

Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Vice President Government Affairs and Industry Relations

Michigan Allocated Over $600 Million In Rental Assistance

The federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, included $25 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Michigan’s allocation of this relief package amounts to $622 million. Although the money is now available, the Michigan Legislature must approve legislation in order for the funds to be appropriated to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for distribution. At the time of this writing, bills appropriating a portion of this money were moving in the legislature. MSHDA and its local partners have a structure and process in place to quickly begin accepting applications and delivering assistance once the legislation is approved. The distribution network will follow the previous Eviction Diversion Program (EDP), which concluded at the end of 2020. The new program will be called the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program and it will differ from the EDP in a number of ways. While EDP was established and funded by the State of Michigan, CERA is funded by the federal government and as such its eligibility and requirements come from federal law and the Department of Treasury. Renters must be under 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), have a COVID related financial hardship, and be at-risk of homelessness or housing instability. The period of rental assistance (both future and arrears) is based on an AMI scale, and utility assistance will also be included. The federal law stipulates that Michigan must obligate at least 65% (so $405 million) of the available funds by September 30, 2021, or unobligated funds could be recalled by the Department of Treasury.

Security Deposit Legislation Proposed In Michigan House

Introduced in early February, House Bill 4180 would amend the Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act to allow a resident to request that their security deposit be used to pay rent during a state of emergency as declared under the Emergency Management Act or an emergency order under the Public Health Code. The bill does not compel the landlord to agree to the request. The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Regulatory Reform in the Michigan House of Representatives.

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