“I ask the governor to have compassion on the poor and needy and continue this program until the needs of all are met,” Simmons said.
Governor Tate Reeves announced last week that Mississippi is ending a federal program in the state that incentivizes people to stay out of the workforce by offering up to 15 months of free rent and utility bill payments.
At the direction of Governor Reeves, Mississippi Home Corporation will stop accepting applications to the federal government’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, effective Friday, August 15, 2022.
In Mississippi, this program is referred to as the Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program (RAMP).
“The Emergency Rental Assistance Program was initially designed to help those who had a hardship caused by COVID-19,” a press release from the Governor’s office explained. “However, the program’s second tranche of funding has strayed widely from the program’s original purpose and intent, as it no longer requires applicants to provide proof that they cannot pay their rent or utility bill due to a hardship caused by COVID-19.”
Governor Reeves said that Mississippi’s COVID-19 State of Emergency ended about eight months ago and it is time the state returns to pre-pandemic policies.
“Mississippi isn’t afraid to make hard decisions to improve our workforce participation. That’s what we’re doing today,” Reeves added. “This program has essentially become: If for whatever reason you can’t pay your rent or utility bill, taxpayers will pay them for you. Mississippi will continue to say no to these types of liberal handouts that encourage people to stay out of the workforce. Instead, we’re going to say yes to conservative principles and policies that result in more people working.”
The announcement only applies to applications that have not yet been submitted. If an application to the program has already been submitted, last week’s announcement will have no effect on it.
On Wednesday, Mississippi Democrat Senate Minority Leader Derrick Simmons released a statement on ending the rental assistance program.
Simmons asked the Mississippi Governor to reconsider his decision to end the federally funded rental assistance program started during the height of COVID-19 to assist those in need to avoid homelessness.
“As much as $130 million in federal dollars will be sent back to the federal government if Governor Reeves does not change his stance,” the Senate Minority Leader explained.
Simmons said that people continue to struggle with the high cost of food, medicine, childcare and gasoline, among others.
“This money was meant to help those people maintain their lives and most importantly, to remain housed,” Simmons continued. “I ask the governor to have compassion on the poor and needy and continue this program until the needs of all are met.”
Following Sen. Simmons’ statement, Governor Reeves’ Deputy Chief of Staff Cory Custer told Y’all Politics that this program has strayed vastly from its original intent as applicants no longer need to prove they have a hardship caused by COVID-19.
Custer noted that Governor Reeves said last week, “This program has essentially become: If for whatever reason you can’t pay your rent or utility bill, taxpayers will pay them for you.”
“Democrat politicians are addicted to government handouts that pay people not to work,” the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff added. “They’d rather pay people to sit home to score political points instead of doing the hard work necessary to improve Mississippi’s workforce participation.”
“Governor Reeves isn’t afraid to make the tough decisions to strengthen Mississippi’s economy, support job creators, and get people back to work,” Custer continued. “He encourages Mississippi’s legislators – whether they’re in Greenville or somewhere else – to ask small business owners in their district how 15 months of free rent and utilities courtesy of taxpayers affects their ability to hire workers.”