CLINTON TOWNSHIP – The expiration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s moratorium on eviction notices and the end of expanded unemployment payments is shrinking the safety net for people struggling to meet their rent or mortgage obligations. For residents of Clinton Township who are facing coronavirus-related hardships, financial help is on the way.
The Township has established a rent mortgage assistance program for qualified applicants who are facing difficulty. The goal of the program is to prevent eviction or foreclosure by providing payment to the applicant’s landlord, or mortgage company, for up to three months.
At a recent Township Board of Trustee’s meeting, Assistant Planning Director Matt Wallace presented a plan to dedicate more than $330,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to eligible Township residents. The rent and mortgage assistance program will provide up to three months of payments as a result of job loss or other income hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is made available via the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“Now that the moratorium on evictions has been lifted, many families can be impacted because of job loss, reduced hours, or their inability to work because they have the virus or are caring for someone who does,” said Township Supervisor Bob Cannon. “I thank our Board of Trustees for approving the rent and mortgage assistance program last month, and I appreciate all the time Matt Wallace has put in to develop the details,” he said.
“The assistance dollars will be provided directly to the participant’s landlord or mortgage company, as is required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),” said Wallace. “Mortgage payments will only be made to owner-occupied properties,” he said.
Wallace went on to say that rental assistance will be given only to certified rental units. If a request is made regarding a noncertified unit, the landlord will have an opportunity to certify.
However, monthly payments must be verified with a lease or mortgage statement. Per HUD regulations, rent and mortgage amounts must be considered reasonable for the market, and the Township reserves the right to determine what constitutes a reasonable amount.
“The program provides up to three consecutive months of assistance in the means most helpful to the applicant,” said Wallace. “For example, the applicant can apply for the first month they cannot pay their rent or mortgage and then receive a check for their second and third months as those payments are due – three separate checks in total. Alternately, if the applicant has three months’ worth of payments due when they apply, they can apply for the total all at once.” Wallace said he expects these to be the most common methods of assistance, but any measure that does not exceed the three-month limit will be considered.
If, before applying, an applicant owes more than three months’ worth of rent or mortgage, they will not receive assistance unless they provide proof of available funds to pay the balance between program assistance available and what is owed. The Township reserves the right to request acknowledgment from the landlord or mortgage company that the help to be provided will prevent immediate eviction or foreclosure. Also, applicants can request less than three months of payments. For example, they owe for only one month when applying; they can waive receipt of the second and third payments. Wallace said this is encouraged if the applicant finds or regains employment, or is no longer impacted by the coronavirus.
Potential recipients have a three-week window to submit applications. Additional time will be given if funding allows. Current income, pre-pandemic income (per tax return), and whether a residence is in a low or moderate-income census block group are factors in selection. Applicants are considered for assistance based on their 2019 Total Annual Household Income, percentage of income lost, housing cost burden, and whether the residence is located in a low or moderate-income neighborhood.
Applications for the Clinton Township rent and mortgage assistance program will be accepted until August 31, 2020.
For more information, or to apply, go to https://clintontownship.com/rent-and-mortgage-assistance.html.