LANSING \u2014 The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) has launched an online tool to help streamline the application process for renters and landlords seeking COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA). MSHDA currently has about $282 million in federal funds available to help tenants avoid eviction and landlords recoup owed rent. Another $340 million is available to be appropriated by the state legislature. "No one should ever have to worry about losing their home, especially during a pandemic," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. "I'm proud of the steps MSHDA is taking with this new tool to help individuals, families, and landlords handle pandemic-related pressure points of back rent and utility payments as quickly as possible." Renters making 80% of the area median income or less are eligible. For other eligibility criteria and a link to the secure online application site, visit Michigan.gov\/CERA. Landlords or tenants can fill out the CERA application and upload required documents. "We want to reach applicants where they are, and the majority are online," said Kelly Rose, MSHDA chief housing solutions officer. "For those with a computer or smartphone, the online application site is the most efficient way to apply. It only takes about 15 minutes, and the system can support up to 5,000 applicants at any given time." Those who do not have a computer or smart phone can apply for assistance through their local Housing Assessment Resource Agency (HARA) \u2014 Mid Michigan CAA at 877-213-5955 for residents of Mecosta and Osceola counties; TrueNorth Community Services at 877-446-8730 for Lake County residents. "We encourage everyone who is eligible to take advantage of this program and take steps toward housing stability," Rose said. Funding for the program comes from the federal coronavirus aid package passed in December 2020.