COVID Emergency Rental Assistance

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) will administer the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) Program through its network of local nonprofit agencies starting March 15, 2021. CERA can provide rental and utility assistance for eligible renter households so that they retain their housing stability.  The Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency will be administering this program in Van Buren County

Low-income households in Van Buren County who are experiencing a hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for rent assistance, utility assistance, and/or internet stipends. Renters with past-due rent and utility balance and those with subsidized housing can receive assistance if they meet the other eligibility requirements. 


Rent Assistance

Up to 12 months of back rent

assistance, with 3 months of

forward rent for lowest income


Utility Assistance

Includes water, sewer, heat and

electricity. Assistance is based

on household size, but the maximum

amount is $2,500.


Internet Payments

Internet stipend is also available

for those who present a bill.

Tenants OR landlords can apply on behalf of a household. For full information about MSHDA's CERA Program eligibility requirements, click here.

  • Renter households that have incomes less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) 

  • 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.

  • All applications must go through the MSHDA CERA online application portal for application intake. Click the button above to begin your application.

Have a question?

Call SMCAA at 269-925-9077 ext 877.