If you fell behind on rent and/or utilities during the pandemic and need assistance, you can apply online today.

How to Apply

  • Use the secure online application portal (“Click Here to Apply Now” button above) to submit your application for assistance.
  • OR submit all required documents and application (found below) to the following email address: kent.rent@usc.salvationarmy.org
  • Currently CERA caseworkers are working hard to process applications. Please allow up to 30 days for applications to process and, once approved, 14 days for landlords to receive payments.
  • If you have questions or need help completing your application, please contact kent.rent@usc.salvationarmy.org or call 877-ERA-KENT.
  • Walk-in Assistance is available at:
    • The Salvation Army
    • 1215 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 – Monday through Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm
    • Kent County Community Action
    • 121 Franklin St SE Ste 110, Grand Rapids, MI 49507 – Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM
    • 82 Ionia Avenue NW, Suite 390, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 – Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5 PM
    • Hispanic Center of West Michigan (Spanish speaking assistance available)
    • 1204 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 – Monday through Friday, 9am to 12 PM and 1:30 PM to 5 PM

Kent County Dashboard – as of September 23, 2021

As of September 23rd, 5,197 CERA applications have been received in Kent County. Of those, 2,635 households have been approved and 1,635 are in progress. $16,168,949 has been distributed and with an average of $6,136 in assistance distributed per household.

Required Documents for Tenants:

  • Completed CERA Tenant application.
  • Copy of past-due rent notice, a notice to quit or a court ordered summons, complaint or judgement.
  • Copy of state ID or passport for the tenant applicant (with proof of residency if address does not match the unit.) (Alternate IDs are acceptable.)
  • Most current copy of lease agreement in tenant’s name (if a written lease was completed.)
  • Provide all proof of earned and unearned income for household members that live at the property and that are over the age of 18.
  • Household income/benefits (unemployment, SSI, etc.) for one month, OR
  • Copy of submitted 2020 IRS form 1040 (first two pages) OR
  • Food Assistance Program Notice of Case Action form (only applicable for households with 3 or less people.)
  • Copy of ALL utility statements the tenant is responsible for, if seeking assistance for utilities.
  • Copy of Internet bill/statement, if seeking assistance for internet.

Required Documents for Landlords:

  • 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

Eligibility Requirements

CERA serves renter households that have incomes less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), experienced financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the coronavirus outbreak, and are behind on rent.

Area Median Income for Kent County:

1 Person Household2 Person Household3 Person Household4 Person Household5 Person Household6 Person Household7 Person Household8 Person Household
50% of AMI $28,100$32,100$36,100$40,100$43,350$46,550$49,750$52,950
80% of AMI $44,950$51,350$57,750$64,150$69,300$74,450$79,550$84,700

More information on specific eligibility requirements and needed documentation can be found at www.michigan.gov/cera.

Kent County CERA Program Appeal Process

An appeal may be submitted via an online form at KentRentHelp.org within 30 days of the assistance decision.  Kent County CERA Program Manager will respond in writing within 10 Business days of the form submission, additional information may be requested for review.

Appeal Process Steps:

  • Appeal Received by CERA Program Manager.
  • Program Manager will respond to appeal request within 10 business days and may ask for additional information.
  • Program Manager will attempt to resolve appeal with information provided.
  • Appeal Committee will be alerted and consulted for all appeals.
  • Appeal decision will be made and sent via email or written letter within 30 days of request.

*All appeal decisions are final after the review of the CERA Program Manager and the Appeal Committee.

CERA Appeal Submission Form: https://forms.office.com/r/rwR5cgQBMc

Documents:


Frequently Asked Questions:

BACKGROUND

Kent County will receive approximately $39 million to support rent and utility assistance for low-to-moderate income households through MSHDA’s CERA (COVID Emergency Relief Assistance) statewide allocation from the emergency relief assistance bill passed by Congress in December. This funding is an opportunity to help renters remain in their homes through direct rental assistance payments to landlords. CERA can also provide utility assistance for eligible renter households so that they retain their housing stability.

CAN I GET HELP WITH MY UTILITIES?

Yes, 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).

Utility Assistance

Household SizeMaximum Total One Time Utility Payment
(Includes Future Payment)
Maximum Future Utility Payment as a Credit
1-2 persons$1,500$300
3-4 persons$2,000$500
5+ persons$2,500$500

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

HOW MUCH RENTAL ASSISTANCE CAN I RECEIVE?

  • Up to 50% AMI-up to 12 months of rental assistance
    • Included within the 12 months, 3 months can be used for future rent assistance
  • 50-80% AMI-up to 10 months of rental assistance
    • Included within the 10 months, 3 months can be used for future rent assistance
  • Tenants may apply for an additional 3 months of rental assistance if necessary, for housing stability

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO RECEIVE ASSISTANCE?

Currently CERA caseworkers are working hard to process applications. Please allow up to 30 days for applications to process and, once approved, 14 days for landlords to receive payments. For applications submitted before April 19, allow 30 days from the submission date. During this time, we ask for your patience and that you do not submit another application (only one application per household).

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. Click here to view the Fair Market Rent information for Kent County.

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.