The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a myriad of adverse effects on many West Michigan households. Business slow-downs and job loss have caused great numbers to fall behind on rent and utility payments, many for the first time ever. 

The Michigan State Housing Authority (MSHDA) has begun administering the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CERA) that can help renters with rent and utility payments. TrueNorth Community Services is the local provider covering Lake, Mason, Newaygo and Oceana counties. 

There are a number of qualifying factors for eligibility, including household income, unemployment status and the ability to show how the household has incurred significant costs or experienced other financial hardships related to the COVID-19 crisis. More information is available at

“The best thing for people to do is call us so we can help them determine if they are eligible for this particular rental assistance program, or possibly another,” said Brad Hinken, division director at TrueNorth. If you live in any of the listed counties and are experiencing COVID-related financial difficulties with rent or utilities, call (877) 446-8730. TrueNorth is a local, respected nonprofit and this is a free service to qualifying residents.