Muskegon – Community enCompass announced Monday, March 30th that it is forgiving April rent for families in all 26 of its rental units in the City of Muskegon. This is an effort to lessen the burden that the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on working wage families. Our decision to provide rent forgiveness is unprecedented in Community enCompass’ 30+ year history of providing affordable rental housing to working-wage families. An excerpt from the letter sent to the tenants on Tuesday, March 31st reads:
“We know this unprecedented situation impacts everyone differently: some of you have lost your job or seen reduced hours; some of you are now taking care of kids all day long, trying to balance parenting and homeschooling; some of you are taking care of elderly, vulnerable family members; some of you are wondering how you are going to pay the bills and whether the arrival of the stimulus checks will be “in time”; all of us are feeling stress and anxiety about what the future holds.
We want you to know that we are thinking of you. The Community enCompass Board of Directors met this week Monday and approved a proposal to forgive your rent for the month of April. This rent forgiveness is unprecedented in our 30+ year history of providing affordable rental housing. But unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. And we want to do something meaningful to show you that we value you as neighbors and as part of our tenant family.”
In any major crisis, housing quickly becomes one of the critical issues impacting people. Therefore, Community enCompass is taking immediate steps to ensure our neighbors are able to focus on their health and safety without worrying about getting too far behind on rent or facing the possibility of eviction. We are grateful for our partnership with Lighthouse Property Management who is reducing their property management fee for the month of April and for waiving late fees for tenants in good standing whose income is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, Community enCompass is engaging county-wide with tenants, landlords and social service organizations to develop community-wide marketing/messaging encouraging people to PAY RENT/MORTGAGE FIRST whenever possible. We are urging landlords to implement changes that stop eviction notices and late fees on missed payments for those affected by COVID-19, and working with tenants to develop rent/utility payment plans as needed. Housing is good health care. One of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to socially distance oneself inside your home, away from others. Access to safe and affordable housing plays a significant role in ensuring the health of our entire community.
While the Community enCompass office is closed to the public, staff in all programs are working harder than ever, answering phone calls at 231-728-3117, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to link people experiencing a housing crisis with community-based services that help them maintain stable housing. Our housing team continues to provide support to families and individuals, and are conducting housing assessments via scheduled call-in appointments Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.