Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay
Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed a bipartisan bill to invest $2.2 billion in federal COVID relief funding to support the recovery of individuals, families, and businesses struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new funding helps families put food on the table through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and keep a roof over their head through the Emergency Rental Assistance program.
“As we look ahead, we have an unprecedented opportunity to use federal stimulus funds to help Michigan’s families, small businesses, and communities emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever before,” Whitmer said. “The bipartisan bill that I signed today is the result of good-faith efforts by members of the legislature and it is a testament to what we can do together: make a real difference in people’s lives right now. With life getting back to normal, we are turning full attention to our state’s economic jumpstart by creating jobs with higher wages, giving small businesses the needed capital to ramp up hiring and boost investment, and making sure every family has access to affordable, quality childcare.”
In addition to the money for food and housing, funding is provided to help local governments continue providing essential services and sends disaster relief dollars directly to counties, cities, and hospitals for their COVID vaccination efforts as well as communities impacted by the historic flooding last year in Midland.
Funding in the bill is specifically provided as follows:
Within the Department of Health and Human Services: $1.5 billion in federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding to support a 15% increase in monthly food assistance benefits through September 30, 2021, providing temporary assistance to families needing emergency food.
Within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity: $378.3 million in federal funding for grant awards to be distributed and used to assist renter households at or below 80% of area median income, supporting the Emergency Rental Assistance Program which includes rental and utility assistance payments, housing stability services, and case management to eligible renter households impacted by COVID-19.
Within the Department of State Police: $65.2 million in federal funding for payment to vendors for emergency and disaster response and mitigation services provided in areas throughout the state.
Within the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget: $21.0 million in state funding for a one-time purchase of tax vouchers issued by the state to the Venture Michigan Fund (VMF) which is used to generate investment capital from lenders. This results in projected savings through the avoidance of interest that would accrue on vouchers.
Within the Department of Treasury: $322.1 million in federal funding to distribute to local units of government to be used for the following: to provide assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits; to aid industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality; to provide premium pay for essential workers; to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year; and to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband.
“I’m glad we’re getting these critical FEMA disaster assistance dollars out to impacted communities and putting our federal relief funds to effective use helping struggling Michiganders feed their families, supporting local governments and ensuring people have access to emergency rental assistance,” said Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“I am proud to serve with a governor who has worked with both sides of the aisle to assure Michigan roars out of this pandemic,” said State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing.
“Necessary resources such as food, rental, and utility assistance for Michigan residents are critical as we continue to respond to COVID-19’s impacts,” said State Representative Joe Tate, D-Detroit.
“This bill provides the necessary funds to do just that,” Tate added.
“This has been a difficult year-and-a-half for Michigan families,” said State Representative Thomas Albert, R-Lowell.
“I am glad we were able to come together and get this time-sensitive funding out the door,” Albert added.