TO: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
Detroit City Council Members
FROM: Moratorium Now Coalition
DATE: September 21, 2021
RE: COVID EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE (CERA) PROGRAM
Funds from Covid Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program became available in March, 2021. Detroit has received $130 million to assist renters behind in rental payments, many of whom are facing eviction for non-payment.
City officials and their non-profit partners have been slow in delivering the funds to help Detroiters who quality. This is unacceptable.
Detroit officials have failed to adequately get information to all Detroit residents explaining how the CERA program can pay both overdue and current rental and utilities payments. As a result of this failure many Detroit residents are behind in their rental payments and/or face eviction.
Many people in Detroit do not even know that the CERA program exists, according to media reports and Judge William C. McConico, Chief Judge of 36th District Court.
Some renters have tried to access CERA by calling the number provided but were unsuccessful due to the high volume of calls and the insufficient staffing.
Other Detroit residents who completed the application are still waiting to hear from the non-profit service providers. Some have waited months with no word after submitting their application.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the CDC moratorium on evictions, people now face evictions while struggling to survive a global pandemic. Our local officials have not been effective in communicating the information about CERA funds or distributing the funds to the people who need help now.
We strongly urge Detroit’s Mayor and City Council Members to:
- Place a moratorium on rental evictions due to non-payment of rent during this active pandemic by having the Detroit Health Department declare a public health emergency and by using emergency powers delineated in the City Charter (see attachment);
- Immediately launch a media campaign to inform Detroit residents about the CERA program that includes the usage of billboards, radio and television ads, ads on Facebook, websites, and other social media, bus ads, and mass mailings to every resident;
- Provide residents their application status within 3 business days of receipt by a CERA partner. If this is not possible with the level of partners/staff, City officials must engage more partners and/or hire more staff to ensure Detroiters in need of rental assistance receive help in a timely manner.
We call on the City of Detroit, Mayor Duggan, and City Council Members to act with the upmost urgency to guarantee Detroit residents receive the help available from the CERA program and avoid eviction during this pandemic.
Attachment: Emergency powers in Detroit Charter