East Lansing expands aid funding to include utility services

EAST LANSING, Michigan – East Lansing City Council receives another round of coronavirus funding, part of which will be used to help residents with utility bills.

“We got the message that technically we would get the third round, it’s our second pot of extra money, but it’s the third round for the federal government,” said Amy Schlusler-Schmitt, director of community development and engagement at East Lansing . “We’re really meant to spend these extra dollars that are specific to COVID, either in response to or in preparation for all of these COVIDs that are happening right now.”

More than $ 218,000 will be allocated to the city’s emergency rental and mortgage assistance program to help residents financially affected by COVID-19.

“We’re just trying to do what we can,” said Aaron Stephens, Mayor of East Lansing. “People are still having financial problems right now.”

Schlusler-Schmitt said the council had been discussing this since March. After the city workers contacted the utilities in the region, they decided to include this in the aid program.

“We actually learned that there are hundreds of thousands of arrears in the region,” said Schlusler-Schmitt. “We felt that this would be appropriate at this point as people couldn’t pay their bills in full.”

East Lansing residents can apply for relief funding through the Capital Area Housing Partnership.

Total rent and mortgage assistance are capped at $ 7,000 per household over a six month period. This is an increase of $ 2,000 over previous funding rounds.

Households can apply for a maximum of $ 3,000 for utility bill support for six months.

If the applications are opened in a few weeks, according to Schlusler-Schmitt, every household that applies for support must prove that their income has changed during the pandemic.

“Maybe they have fewer hours than before, maybe they moved from a two-person income to a one-person income. All of these are eligible activities or situations where people could get the funds.”

The city’s first round of funding began in July. Schlusler-Schmitt said they believe it was beneficial to those who used it.

“We have supplied over 35 households,” she said. “I know that doesn’t sound like much, but that was actually more than $ 88,000 in support.”

Stephens hopes this funding will continue to help those in need in the city.

“That kind of money is a good thing,” said Stephens. “Especially to local communities who assess the needs of their community and then adjust this money and use it sensibly.”

After the city council approves the inclusion of utilities in the program, it will be submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for final approval. Shlusler-Schmitt expects this to happen in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, households in need can still apply for the $ 5,000 rental and mortgage program, which does not include ancillary charges.

Residents with questions can contact the CAHP office at (517) 332-4663 or [email protected] for more information. Applicants will be served based on availability.

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