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. Due to the volume of applications, we are not able to provide a processing timeframe.
  • 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

Important CERA 2 Reminders: The COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program guidelines have recently changed. If your application was previously denied, you may now be eligible for assistance.

  • CERA funds cannot cover rent arrearages incurred prior to March 13, 2020
  • Applicants must have active arrears incurred prior to March 30, 2022 (previously was December 20, 2021)
  • Utility only assistance requests do not qualify for assistance (applicants must owe rent, as well)
  • First-time applications are processed in the order they are received
  • Rental assistance payments made directly to tenants must be paid to their landlord immediately, all rental assistance funds not paid from the tenant to the landlord, must be reimbursed to MSHDA.  A demand for re-payment letter will be sent to the tenant with instructions on returning the payment.
  • All applications are subject to availability of funds

Re-certification Processing Update

Thank you for your patience during the application process. Currently, we are focusing our efforts on processing first-time applications. Our dedicated team is working as quickly as they can on re-certifications for additional assistance. Due to the volume of applications, we are not able to provide a processing timeframe. All applications are subject to availability of funds. We recommend that applicants call 2-1-1 or visit hwmuw.org/211 to find information on other available resources in our community. If you have an upcoming court date, please contact Legal Aid of Western Michigan (lawestmi.org) for help. 


Kent County Dashboard – as of April 5, 2022

As of April 5th, 13,848 applications have been received in Kent County. Of those, 7,269 have been approved and 1,936 are in progress. A total of $39,503,945 has been distributed with an average of $5,435 per household. View additional demographic and state-level data on MSHDA’s CERA Dashboard.

CERA 2 Financial Assistance Required Documentation

  • Copy of tenant State of Michigan ID or Passport verifying Michigan residency required for the primary adult household member only
  • Verification of tenant address if the ID address does not match the unit address or verification of   homelessness
  • Copy of lease agreement (or substantiating documents if there is no written lease)
  • Proof of ownership from Landlord
  • COVID Hardship tenant self-attestation statement:
    • Qualification for unemployment benefits OR
    • Reduction in household income OR
    • Incurred significant costs or other financial hardship
  • Copy of income verification (if applicable):
    • 2020 calendar year income (first two pages of IRS form 1040) OR
    • Paystubs for the past month for all income sources OR
    • Tenant self-attestation (not permitted unless self-employed or zero income)

Additional Requirements and Documentation:

  • For applicants that are renting a room:
    • Verification of ownership AND
    • Verification of landlord filing of the Complaint or landlord tax returns
  • For applicants that are renting from a relative:
    • Verification of ownership AND
    • Verification of landlord filing of the Complaint or landlord tax returns
  • Copy of current utility bill(s) for CERA to provide utility assistance, if applicable
  • Copy of current internet bill for CERA to provide internet assistance, if applicable
  • Copy of court documentation verifying court costs, if applicable
  • Subsidy does not exceed 150% of the FMR based on unit size (one bedroom for single person households)
  • Conditional Dismissal Order (for court cases)
  • Landlord W-9 Form (if rent payment is being made directly to the landlord)

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.

HOW LONG WILL THE CERA PROGRAM OPERATE?

At some point in the next few months, the CERA program will stop taking new applications once enough applications have been received to spend all the program funds. A specific date for closing the application portal has not yet been determined. More applications will be received than we have funding for, so some applications will not be able to be processed. The portal closure date will be posted on this site prior to closing.

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).

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

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 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

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO RECEIVE ASSISTANCE?

Thank you for your patience during the application process. Currently, we are focusing our efforts on processing first-time applications. Our dedicated team is working as quickly as they can on re-certifications for additional assistance. Due to the volume of applications, we are not able to provide a processing timeframe. All applications are subject to availability of funds. We recommend that applicants call 2-1-1 or visit hwmuw.org/211 to find information on other available resources in our community. If you have an upcoming court date, please contact Legal Aid of Western Michigan (lawestmi.org) for help.

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.

HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR APPLICATION STATUS?

Coalition to End Homelessness staff are unable to see the status of CERA applications and payments. If you are in Kent County and have questions, please contact kent.rent@usc.salvationarmy.org or call 877-ERA-KENT. If you are not in Kent County, find your local contact here.