COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance

Assistance is available to tenants and landlords who have experienced hardships due to COVID.

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. SMCAA is administering rental and utility assistance in Van Buren County and utility assistance in Berrien County.

(Rental assistance in Berrien County is administered through Emergency Shelter Services. CERA in Cass County is administered through KeyStone.)

​Low-income households 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. ​Tenants OR landlords can apply on behalf of a household.

Potential Assistance Offered

​- Rent Assistance: Up to 12 months of back rent assistance, with 3 months of forward rent for lowest income tenants.
- 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.

Eligibility Requirements

- 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.

Application Process

If you fit within the eligibility requirements listed above, you may qualify for this program! Before beginning the application process, be advised that the following documentation MUST be included with your applicated in order to be processed:

All applications must go through the MSHDA CERA online application portal for application intake. For full information about MSHDA's CERA Program eligibility requirements and to begin your application, click the button below.