Clinton Township Assistant Planning Director Matt Wallace said a leap of faith was essential to streamline administrative red tape and get much-needed rent and mortgage money to township residents. The program was introduced last July.

Clinton Township Assistant Planning Director Matt Wallace said a leap of faith was essential to streamline administrative red tape and get much-needed rent and mortgage money to township residents. The program was introduced last July.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Township happy with assistance program one year later

By: Alex Szwarc | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published August 13, 2021

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township’s mortgage assistance program was aimed at helping those facing financial disaster during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year later, the township is pleased with how the program unfolded.

Assistant Planning Director Matt Wallace said a leap of faith was essential to streamline administrative red tape and get much-needed rent and mortgage money to township residents in need at a time when the pandemic settled in for the long haul.

The program was introduced in the township in July 2020.

A press release from the township notes that, in March 2020, the federal government bolstered annual Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, funding via the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act.

Working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development representatives, Wallace administered the portion of the money the township received.

Last July, Wallace presented a plan to the township’s Board of Trustees, calling for more than $330,000 in CDBG funds to be committed toward a rent and mortgage assistance program.

“The plan outlined how eligible township residents in need of help due to job loss or other income hardships caused by the pandemic could apply for up to three months of financial aid,” the release notes.

Around this time last year, Wallace said he created a specific formula for township residents, of which about 30% or 8,000 individuals are renters.

Wallace said when the money first became available, he asked representatives about rent mortgage assistance.

“HUD asked if we were sure there was going to be a need for that, and I said I was pretty confident there was, because of the job numbers and stories we were reading at the time,” Wallace said.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that Michigan’s unemployment rate spiked to more than 23% in April 2020.

Agencies that receive CDBG funding from the township include Care House Child Advocacy Center; Turning Point, which offers services to end domestic and sexual violence; and Macomb Country Rotating Emergency Shelter Team congregations helping the homeless.

“It’s critically important that we support our county nonprofits that help women, children and the elderly,” Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said. “I’m proud of the fact that our Board of Trustees continues to do so while also approving innovative ideas to keep people in their homes,” he said.

Planning and Community Development Director Bruce Thompson said Wallace went above and beyond in his work on the rent and mortgage assistance program.

“Matt’s commitment to the people and families who received relief has been inspirational, and he continues to focus on ways to help people financially during this crisis,” Thompson said.

In November 2020, the initial CARES Act grant to the township was backed by another for $490,000.

Wallace believes Clinton Township is an exception, compared to other municipalities, because the second grant included more money than the first.

In total, he said the township dedicated more than $820,000 of its grant money into rent and mortgage assistance, helping 798 people to remain in 330 households.

Looking to the future, Wallace hasn’t heard if more grant money is coming to Clinton Township.

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