Wayne County announces $20M aid fund for renters outside Detroit

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans on Tuesday announced a $20 million emergency rental aid program for county residents outside Detroit. 

The effort, to launch Monday, will aid an estimated 45,000 Wayne County households behind on rent, Evans said during a Tuesday press conference from the Mackinac Policy Conference. 

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans on Tuesday unveiled a program that will provide $20 million in emergency rental aid to county residents.

"Here in Wayne County, our intention is to render as much assistance as we can to those in our community who are the most vulnerable and at risk by providing resources

to help them stay in their homes," Evans said. "Staying safe during COVID can be difficult enough without adding the threat of homelessness to the mix."

County officials estimate that the average rent debt per household is $2,291. Wayne County renters outside Detroit are eligible for the program. The city proper has a rental assistance program of its own. 

Last week, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced a $130 million program to help keep people in their homes by helping them pay overdue rent and utilities and providing lawyers for those facing eviction. 

"We don't want vacant houses," Duggan said then. "We don't want our families to be looking for a house in the middle of COVID."

More:Detroit announces $130 million program to prevent evictions

Along with 15 months of back rent, the Wayne County program Evans detailed Tuesday covers three months of future rent, utility bills, internet, and relocation costs.

There are federal eligibility requirements, Wayne County says. Those are:

  • One or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship during or due, directly or indirectly, to the coronavirus pandemic
  • One or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability
  • The household income is at or below 80% of area median income, as determined by the secretary of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The emergency rental assistance program is funded from the county's $339 million allocation of American Rescue Plan stimulus funds. 

Applications and additional info can be found on the county website at waynecounty.com/rental assistance. 

Evans on Tuesday also noted the effort of the Detroit nonprofit group Samaritas which is helping to resettle about 350 Afghan refugees in Michigan, primarily in Wayne County. 

More: Hundreds of Afghans expected in Michigan as resettlement group plans fundraiser

"I'm glad to see them come," Evans said of the refugees. "The data supports the idea that they will be a boon to the community."

"We are welcoming in Wayne County, and will continue to be welcoming in Wayne County," added Alisha Bell, D-Detroit, chairwoman of the Wayne County Commission.