As COVID lockdown rental assistance ends, City announces 3-part Immediate Intervention Plan for those facing eviction

As COVID lockdown rental assistance ends, City announces 3-part Immediate Intervention Plan for those facing eviction

  • Detroit renters facing eviction who need a lawyer can get one provided by City.
  • City’s rapid job placement service is available to those who need a job or more income.
  • City partners helping to place residents in emergency shelters and connect to housing services.
  • State will stop accepting new applications for CERA rent and utility assistance on June 30, however, aid will continue to go out to those approved until Sept. 30 or funding runs out.

DETROIT – With news that the State is winding down the federal COVID lockdown rental assistance program, Mayor Mike Duggan today laid out a three-part Immediate Intervention Plan to help those who may still face eviction.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program was a short-term plan to get through the COVID lockdown. With most Michiganders having gone back to work, the federal funds are ending and the State will stop accepting new applications for COVID rental aid on June 30.

“The CERA program was a great success,” Mayor Duggan said. “More than 19,000 Detroiters were helped with back rent since March 2021, and $159 million in assistance was approved for Detroit renters to keep them in their homes.”

“That rental assistance funding will soon be over, but the City of Detroit is here to help those whose lives are not yet back to normal,” said Donald Rencher, the City’s group executive for Housing, Planning and Development. “If you’re facing eviction, we’ll get you a lawyer. If you are behind in your rent and need to earn more income, we’ll help get you a job quickly. And for those who lose their homes, we will connect you with resources to get you into shelter until our partners can help you find a more permanent place to call home.

“We are grateful to the Biden administration, MSHDA, and our community partners for helping to get almost $160 million in aid into the hands of Detroiters facing the threat of eviction.”

Here is a look at services and resources the City is providing residents after CERA applications close June 30.

The 3-point Immediate Intervention Plan

Legal assistance: Detroiters still facing eviction after CERA aid is no longer available will have paid attorneys at all district court eviction proceedings at no cost to the resident. The City of Detroit urges Detroiters to show up for all virtual court dates, regardless of whether they have applied for or received rental aid, in order to avoid a default judgment from being issued against them.

Attorneys and legal assistants are available to give legal advice or provide legal representation. Landlord-tenant dockets are staffed by four attorneys and two legal assistants. All residents can speak to an attorney and receive legal advice. Legal representation is provided based on household circumstances.

Immediate job placement: For Detroiters still struggling to pay rent after the CERA aid ends, the City of Detroit is ready to help them find immediate employment. There are currently more than 12,000 vacant jobs in the city. For Detroiters either currently unemployed or looking for better or additional income, the City’s Rapid Jobs program connects residents to jobs that are immediately available. Detroiters can go to www.DetroitEvictionHelp.com or call 313-962-WORK (9675) to be matched with these job opportunities.

For those who need training, the Skills for Life program offers paid work training, allowing Detroiters to collect a paycheck while learning the tools they need for good-paying jobs. To sign up, residents should go to www.DetroitatWork.com or call 313-962-WORK (9675).

Emergency shelter assistance: The Coordinated Assistance Model (CAM Detroit) provides those experiencing homelessness with access to shelter and housing resources. Each household that is placed in a shelter will be connected with a specialist to assess their needs and help them get the support and housing they need. CAM prioritizes the most vulnerable households and allocates housing resources as they become available.

Anyone, whether an individual or an entire family, who needs a safe place to sleep should either visit CAM’s offices in person, at 1600 Porter St. in Corktown, for fastest service, or leave a message at 313-305-0311.

More details on end of CERA rental aid program:

The CERA program was designed to keep residents in their homes by providing funding to get current on their payments, as well as legal assistance if they were facing eviction. Those who qualified were eligible for up to 18 months of rental assistance, as well as aid for back utility bills. Now that the country is in the post-crisis stage, Detroit residents who have not yet started the process have two weeks left to sign up.

New applications for CERA through MSHDA’s online portal (https://ceraapp.michigan.gov) will no longer be accepted as of 9 p.m. Thursday, June 30. Detroit CERA partners will continue to process applications until all program funds are spent, but cannot be used for rents due after Sept. 30. A Detroit renter who has completed their application but not yet been approved should not apply again, as duplicate applications from the same household will slow down the approval process for everyone. Because of demand, Detroit is not at risk of returning unspent federal funds, but not everyone who applies is guaranteed to receive assistance.

Applicants who have not yet heard back should check to make sure they properly completed their application; incomplete applications not completed before the June 30 deadline will not be accepted. To check the status of your application, go to the MSHDA online portal. (Detailed instructions are at the end of this release.) Residents with an eviction case in court are being prioritized for assistance.

The Detroit Housing & Revitalization Department has spearheaded the CERA program on behalf of the City, partnering with local nonprofits for implementation: the Homeless Action Network of Detroit (HAND), United Community Housing Coalition, Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (Wayne Metro), United Way for Southeastern Michigan, MI Legal Services, Lakeshore Legal Aid, and The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW).

 “The City of Detroit and our nonprofit partners have worked tirelessly to help Detroiters get through this crisis,” said Julie Schneider, acting director of HRD. “We want to make Detroiters aware that the COVID rental assistance is ending. There may be more applications than funding available, so renters need to continue or resume paying rent if they can in order to avoid losing their home.” 

Either tenants or landlords owed rent can apply. However, there are restrictions on who is eligible:

  • An applicant’s household income must be below 80% area median income (AMI). For a single-person Detroit household, that is $50,150 a year or less, and less than $71,600 a year for a family of four.
  • The applicant must have experienced at least one of these COVID hardships since March 13, 2020:
    • A member of the household qualified for unemployment.
    • A member of the household had a reduction in income of at least 10 percent.
    • A member of the household has incurred costs of more than $500 during that time.
    • The household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability evidenced by a past due utility or rent notice.


The CERA program is funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and administered by MSHDA and the City of Detroit. It came from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), which allocated $1.1 billion to the state to be used directly on rental and utility assistance for individuals and families who were affected financially by the pandemic.

Step-by-step instructions on how to check whether your CERA application was properly submitted:

  • Go to https://ceraapp.michigan.gov (no www)
  • Once on the CERA application page, scroll down to “Check App Status” and click the link.
  • You will need to enter your date of birth, last name, and CERA ID. If you’re a landlord, you must enter your tenant’s birthdate.
  • Click “Submit.”
  • You will be given a status update. The status explanation can be found on the right-hand side of the webpage, or below if you are on your phone.
  • Incomplete tenant applications will not show a status, even if you have a CERA ID #. If you have a CERA ID and no status shows up, you need to take further action to complete your application before the portal closes at 9PM on June 30.