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Rental assistance programs in West Michigan prepare for CDC eviction moratorium to expire

The pause on evictions is set to expire nationwide on Saturday, July 31.

WEST MICHIGAN - With the upcoming expiration of the CDC moratorium, its important for tenants facing eviction to reach out to their landlord.

Attorney Jean Howard says while she's hopeful the Biden Administration will get congress to act on an extension, she says there are local funds that can help tenants facing eviction.

"The moratorium is just something that could stop an eviction, but there are also CERA funds that are available those are administered through different local agencies," says Howard. "Most of which in Grand Rapids they funnel through the Salvation Army, so even if the moratorium was lifted they  still have access to the CERA funds and a lot of landlords are still accepting those."

The CERA Program is federal money, and West Michiganders can access funds from the program through the United Way Heart of West Michigan. Gustavo Perez manages the program and he says don't wait for that eviction notice to show up in your mailbox to get your application in.

"What we're doing is prioritizing those with eviction cases, so in the portal when you apply you can note that you have an eviction case pending and we can prioritize and move it as quickly as we can," Perez says. "If they are behind in utilities or rent, before they even get any kind of eviction notice form any landlord or utility provider, when they know they are behind at least a month, they need to apply."

Right now United Way Heart of West Michigan sees about 200 application a week, and they anticipate more phone calls in the coming days.

Additional agencies to help residents in Kent County is the Kent County Community Action. And residents in Muskegon, can contact local organizations like Mission for Area People.

Housing attorneys say while the prospect of eviction is stressful, the best first move you can make is to talk to your landlord.

"I think the landlords throughout this whole process have been working really diligently with their tenants even without the moratorium laws and the CERA funds," says Howard. "A good landlord will work with them. And we realize that we're in the middle of a pandemic and that we're all just trying to get through this together."

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