West Michigan Therapy behind on rent assistance payments

12:08 PM, Jun 11, 2013   |    comments
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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- For more than a decade, West Michigan Therapy has taken on homelessness doing its part to give men, women, and families a second chance with rent assistance.

But a call to 13 On Your Side reveals the agency is having problems fulfilling some of the commitments it has made with landlords in Muskegon.

The agency's housing navigation center pays the first three months rent and deposits on apartment for clients it helps. One landlord who rents to the agency is talking to WZZM 13 about long delays in rent payments.

Karen Kendall's Muskegon home has four apartments. The tenant in unit two was homeless but thanks to West Michigan Therapy, he has a place to live.

Kendall says her tenant Jerrod moved in March 8th. West Michigan Therapy promised to pay the man's first three months of rent. Several weeks passed and the check to cover the first month didn't arrive. So Kendall says she was forced to start the eviction process.

Then the first check did arrive.

Then the second month's, which was due April 8th, was not mailed until April 22nd," says Kendall. After two months of late checks she is waiting again for May's rent.

"I do not know if they will honor the last months rent," says Kendall.

13 On Your Side has confirmed West Michigan Therapy is also behind with other Muskegon area landlords. The agency has a successful history of helping the homeless in Muskegon County, however on Fridays, its offices are closed.

When reached by phone, two agency leaders confirmed West Michigan Therapy is behind on some rent assistance payments. The problem, they say, is complicated because of the many funding sources used to help homeless individuals get into apartments.

Both also say West Michigan Therapy reduced agency staff because of budget cuts, but that also delays processing payments to landlords.

13 On Your Side has arranged to return to West Michigan Therapy Monday. That's when the agency plans to sign and send its most recent rent assistance checks to landlords.

"I tell you it is stressful when landlords have to chase for their rent," says Kendall. She hopes her check for May is included in the bunch.

Other landlords who have worked with West Michigan Therapy for years say problems with late rent assistance payments are recent ones that only started happening this year.

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