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Housing Agencies: Ingham County is facing a potential eviction crisis

Just like the ICU at a hospital, shelter agencies are worrying about capacity limits.
Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 2:56 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Just like the ICU at a hospital, shelter agencies are worrying about capacity limits.

Holy Cross Services is the central coordinator or Housing Assessment and Resource Agency (HARA) for housing in Ingham County. Director Sharon Dade says what they have seen over the past several months is a grim indicator of a looming crisis.

“As a result of COVID-19. We have the eviction crisis looming, and people as much as we have worked very hard to ensure that people can remain housed, some people will become homeless,” said Dade.

That’s despite the over $2 million dollars Ingham County got in federal coronavirus relief funding from the state to pay landlords to allow tenants with past due rent to remain in their homes.

“I just finished about 10 check requests, as I’m sitting here to make sure that we can get those last few folks paid out,” said Dade.

Dade says local agencies have spent every cent that they were allocated.

“We served about 1,100 households from July until January, and have spent probably about $3.5 million to help people maintain their housing. That is in a half year probably what we would have normally seen in an entire year,” said Dade.

Prior to COVID-19 the largest district court in Ingham County would normally see about 1,100 evictions in an entire year.

“It’s absolutely a crisis in Lansing, Ingham County. Overall,” said Dade.

It’s a crisis they worry will only get worse.

“Now the people that we helped in July and August are now in trouble probably again and we’re starting to see some of those households begin to come back,” she explained.

They say what they need is more financial help.

“I think the quicker we can get the vaccines out, the quicker we can get people back to work, the sooner we’ll see some resolve with the eviction crisis. But I can tell you this, the shelter community is not in a position to handle that level of crisis and evictions and I think everybody knows that,” said Dade.

The Eviction Diversion Program is being administered by Holy Cross Services in partnership with Advent House Ministries, Capital Area Housing Partnership, Legal Services of South Central Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – Ingham County.

The program ends February 15. Residents were eligible for rental assistance payments based on the income. A tenant’s income must be less than 100% of area median income. For an individual in Ingham County, area median income is $56,200 and for a family of four in Ingham County, area median income is $80,200.

Holy Cross hopes a new rent assistance program through the Treasury Department will provide the money they need. They’ll find out exactly how much on Wednesday. In the meantime, they’re opening additional shelter space at their New Hope Center, formally the VOA last week.

Holy Cross will also host their 10th annual homeless no more fundraising event virtually this year on March 4th.

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