Genesee County receives $2.8 million for COVID-19 rental assistance

With the eviction moratorium set to end this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recent executive order that encourages landlords to take advantage of COVID-19 rental assistance rather than evict tenants also calls for the creation of statewide eviction programs. In Genesee County, it’s already been in the works long before COVID-19 was on the radar.

For the past year, the Genesee County Continuum of Care (CoC) and several of its member agencies have been planning the 67th District Court Eviction Diversion Program and are ready to launch it.  Eviction Diversion partners include the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, Legal Services of Eastern Michigan, Center for Civil Justice, Metro Community Development, Oakland-Livingston Human Services Agency, Catholic Charities, Wellness Services, Salvation Army, GCCARD and Family Promise, together with the 67-5 District Court.

Under Whitmer’s recent executive order, $50 million of rental assistance will be made available in the form of lump-sum payments to landlords in exchange for allowing tenants to remain in their homes, forgiving late fees and up to 10% of the amount due. Tenants whose back rent is not completely covered by the Eviction Diversion Program will be entered into manageable payment plans facilitated by Supreme Court Administrative Order 2020-17.

The order encourages landlords to take advantage of COVID-19 rental assistance rather than evicting tenants once the eviction moratorium ends on July 15.

Catholic Charities is the Housing Assessment and Resource Agency (HARA) for Genesee County and will administer the COVID-19 rental assistance funding, which amounts to $2.8 million for the county.

“Eviction diversion is a win for everyone involved,” said Jim Perlaki, executive director of the Genesee County Youth Corporation and chair of the CoC committee that planned the Eviction Diversion Program. “The landlord gets paid the majority of the rental arrearages, the tenant remains housed and the court has less eviction cases to resolve.”

Once the COVID-19 rental assistance funding is exhausted, the 67th District Court Eviction Diversion Program will continue to operate with other eviction prevention dollars, such as state emergency relief and emergency services grants.

LSEM provides free legal services to low-income people in 14 mid-Michigan counties, including Genesee.

Catholic Charities is a comprehensive health and human services agency.

Flint/Genesee Continuum of Care is a community working together to achieve access to safe and affordable housing for all residents of Genesee County.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Ashley Schafer.