OWOSSO — Capital Area Community Services (CACS) has received a chunk of the $3.823 million recently allocated by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to resolve tenant eviction filings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CACS, a nonprofit agency that assists low-income people throughout Shiawassee County, is expecting to receive $162,175 soon from MSHDA’s Eviction Diversion Program, created to help area tenants and landlords resolve eviction issues.
“This is a good program,” CACS Coordinator Becky Zemla said. “I would much rather work with somebody who is struggling to keep up with their rent and the landlords who are willing to work with them, then see them homeless on the streets. A lot of the rent problems are related to COVID.”
The Eviction Diversion Program was announced July 16, at the end of the eviction moratorium the state imposed on eviction proceedings during the pandemic. Administered by MSHDA and other agencies, the program assists renters who have fallen behind on their payments during the COVID-19 crisis and landlords who want to recoup missed payments.
Landlord participants can receive up to 90 percent of a tenant’s unpaid rent, in one lump sum, under the condition they waive the tenant’s late fees — 10 percent of the amount owed — and allow the tenant to stay in their homes.
Renters who earn up to the median income in their area are eligible for the program, MSHDA officials said. The median household income in Shiawassee County was $54,456 in 2018, according to the latest census data.
“COVID-19 has created economic uncertainty for individuals and families across our state. These eviction diversion funds will help Michigan families stay in their homes and provide stability to property owners as they navigate this crisis,” Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), the department that houses MSHDA, said in a news release.
Zemla said she and her staff are already working with 66th District Court personnel. At certain stages of the eviction proceedings, she said, meetings will be set up with tenants, landlords, magistrates and legal services representatives to discuss resolving the cases.
“We’re getting people lined up,” Zemla said. “There’s a lot of paperwork, for the tenant and the landlord. It’s a procedure, but in the long run, it’s more than worth it. People are going to get representation and opportunities to stay in their homes, and that includes children.”
Zemla said the landlords she has interacted with seem interested in participating.
“The ones I’ve talked to, it’s an information-gathering thing,” she said. “They’re asking, How do we do this? Where do I get the paperwork?”
The amount of funding received by each county is based on population. Four local Housing Assessment and Resource Agencies — including CACS — are responsible for collaborating with landlords and tenants to use the funds to resolve as many eviction cases as possible through settlement agreements or conditional dismissals.
In Genesee County, Shelter of Flint is receiving $2.8 million for the Eviction Diversion Program. Blue Water Center for Independent Living in Lapeer County has been awarded $163,659.
“The current pandemic has created a worst-case scenario for many individuals and families who have been financially burdened and wonder how long they will still have a roof over their own heads or those of their children,” said Kelly Rose, MSHDA’s chief housing solutions officer, in a news release.
“This program aims to mitigate that fear and offer individuals and families peace of mind that they will still have a place to call home for the foreseeable future.”
For more information about the Eviction Diversion Program, visit michigan.gov/EDP.