LANSING, Mich. - When the clock strikes midnight plus one minute tonight, Michigan's moratorium on evictions will end. And with it could come an estimated tens of thousands of case filings of potential evictions that would flood district courts in the coming weeks.
That could spell trouble for the thousands of renters out of a job or have taken a financial hit since the economy buckled under a wave of business closures and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state estimates there could be a 75,000 case backlog of eviction filings waiting to be sent.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has attempted to help plug part of the financial hole landlords are in with a $50 million Eviction Diversion Program. The fund will help pay for 90% of the rent due by a tenant, in exchange for waiving late fees and penalties and forgive that final 10% that's owed.
The funds will be dispersed by the Michigan State Development Authority and sent to local partners throughout the state.
Households making up to 100% of the area median income (AMI) will be eligible for rental assistance. Half of the funds are also intended to go to households earning less than 50% of the AMI.
As of Wednesday morning, the governor hasn't indicated she plans on extending the moratorium any further. For many Michigan renters, including thousands in the city of Detroit, affordable housing can be a tricky industry to navigate. A lack of available units mixed with the rising cost of rent has forced more residents who make little income to become cash-strapped because housing costs eat into much of their monthly earnings.
Pile on the global pandemic now in its fifth month that's forced businesses to cut hours, layoff employees, and shutter doors, and the financial burden linked to housing becomes even direr.
If a renter has been unable to pay for housing, together they and the landlord will first make a court appearance where information regarding the Eviction Diversion Program will be given. From there, both parties will seek legal advice to work out a deal.
The moratorium's main purpose was to keep people in their homes and protect them from the public health crisis. However, it's unclear how much the housing relief will help as it's not quite certain how many eviction notices will be sent.
Renters are encouraged to watch out for mail coming in in the event they received an eviction notice. One can't be kicked out of their home without first receiving one.
Renters can find more information about what options are available here.