Renters fear eviction; leasing company matches payments

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the first of the month approaches, out-of-work families in Michigan say they’re fearful for the future.

“I’d say there are a lot of Michiganders who have this anxious feeling or this nervousness that I’ve been feeling ever since, I could say, April 1st,” said Michael Dickson.

Dickson rents a home in Grand Rapids. He says he lost his job just before the COVID-19 shutdowns. He says he’s been unsuccessful in getting any unemployment benefits, but his bills are still coming. 

“It’s just been a frustrating time,” Dickson said. “It seems like everything you go through, it runs into a dead end.”

Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order that put a moratorium on evictions, meaning as of now, no one can be evicted from their homes until May 15. Dickson says he fears once the order is over, he’ll be facing homelessness.

While Dickson rents from a unrelated, private landlord, United Properties of West Michigan says they’ve had tenants facing similar hardships. 

“It’s really an anxious time for a lot of people. We’ve had a few tenants that just threw up their hands and said we’re just going to move out and move back in with our parents or take other options,” said Tim Vandentoorn with United Properties.

Vandentoorn says they decided to take this opportunity to help as many of their tenants as they could. United Properties along with their owners raised $42,000 and matched rent up to $500. They say they were able to help 80 tenants who were facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

United Properties says while they know all landlords are not in the position to do something like this, they’re happy they were able to help a few in need. 

“We’re hopeful for May as tenants are receiving their stimulus checks or unemployment is starting to kick in and some tenants are allowed to go back to work to some limited degree. We’re hopeful that May will resume,” Vandentoorn said. 

Homeowners who fear they still won’t be financially stable by the time the moratorium ends say they’re hoping for some leniency from landlords and local judges.