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Heart of West Michigan United Way Receives Rent Assistance Grant

Michelle Van Dyke. Courtesy Heart of West Michigan United Way

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation has awarded Heart of West Michigan United Way a recoverable grant of $ 100,000 to help tenants in Kent County stay in their homes.

“We are very grateful to the Community Foundation and eager to provide relief to tenants who have struggled to afford stable housing during the pandemic,” said Michelle Van Dyke, President and CEO of Heart of West Michigan United Way.

Through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program provides rent, utility, and internet assistance to Michigan residents who fell behind in their payments during the pandemic .

The program is a statewide allocation of the Emergency Relief Bill passed by the US Congress in December. Kent County will receive approximately $ 39 million to support low to moderate income households.

The MSHDA awarded a CERA grant to Heart of West Michigan United Way to bring the program to Kent County. As the grant administrator, United Way was responsible for both the effort and expense associated with developing the program framework before MSHDA reimbursement funds became available.

Recognizing the growing need for rent assistance during the pandemic, the Community Foundation quickly stepped in to offer a recoupable grant to help ease the financial burden.

“By working together, we were able to provide immediate access to funds to ensure as many people as possible could avoid eviction while the partners waited for reimbursement from CERA,” said Kate Luckert Schmid, vice-president. program chair at the Community Foundation.

This partnership allowed United Way to launch the CERA program, including hiring social workers to process requests and allowing local partner agencies to begin facilitating meetings with case managers, tenants and landlords.

Those who fell behind on rent or utilities during the pandemic can review eligibility requirements and apply online at KentRentHelp.org or by calling 877-ERA-Kent.


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