Mississippi will send back cash from the federal rental assistance program, as tenants and lawyers say need remains

Mississippi will send back cash    from the federal rental assistance program, as tenants and lawyers say need remains

Mississippi will end its participation in a few days in federal rental assistance during the pandemic program who kept people facing eviction in them homes during past two years of economic turbulence.

The state still has $130 million. in federal cash to run in programmatic Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, said earlier this month that next Monday would be last day of application for help. Once Mississippi has finished processing the remaining claims, they will return the rest. money The US Department of the Treasury, which oversees of expenses.

In the program the end comes like rent in Mississippi skyrocketed, and a large percentage of those behind on their rent or mortgage said they were in risk of lose their home in in next two months, according to the US Census.

Help with rent for The Mississippi State Program, or RAMP, is proposed. up up to 15 months of assistance with paying rent and utilities for those in need. It was funded by two Covid-19 economic laws passed by Congress. in 2020 and 2021, which provided billions of dollars of rent relief to the states to govern people were at an economic disadvantage due to the pandemic.

Although unemployment continues decline in Mississippi and most of participants in in program work, Reeves said that RAMP is destimulating work.

“This program essentially became: If for whatever reason You can’t pay your rent or utility bill, the taxpayers will pay them for you,” Reeves said. in statement earlier this month. Mississippi will continue to say no to these types of liberal handouts encouraging people stay out of work force. Instead we’re going to say yes conservative principles and policies that result in more people working.”

Reeves decision hits Mississippi when the country is going through rising housing costs and less economic protection. Average listing prices by country for houses were up 16.6% in July compared to the previous yeara rent increased by 14.1% in June 2020 over June 2021 as reported by Realtor.com.

Jacob Leibenluft, US Treasury Secretary recovery officer said programs such as RAMPs, which are covered by the federal emergency rental assistance program, have helped keep evictions below historical averages.

He said the Treasury Department continues to urge states use funding to serve tenants and noted that more more than 6.5 million payments were made. made tenants facing eviction as of June. Even money returned by the states, he said they will continue to go for housing.

“Like we did in other places in cases where funds are not used original recipient,” said Leibenluft, “we will continue to redistribute available funds, where possible with a priority on storage of funds in state where there are outstanding need”.

Housing rights advocates and participants in Mississippi program said issue in their state is not found work, like Reeves said he’s finding wages that can pay for rising cost of living. RAMP has been a huge help in filling the gap, despite the fact that took months before arrive.

Teresa Walker, 45, hairdresser. in Jackson said pandemic caused her to lose numerous clients. Bye business chose up still hard to meet her rent of $935. She applied for in program as well as for jobs at Target and Walmart to help she pays the roughly $4,000 she owes her landlord.

Because the process is so slow moving she didn’t hear back since applying three months ago and her bills are accumulating up.

“They do not care. They are just I don’t care, Walker said. amount of applications they receive shows There is also a need for offer them people like I don’t work? it’s a slap in in face. This is very insulting and humiliating. You just not be sensitive to people’s needs and understanding them.”

Data from Mississippi Home Corporation, which operates RAMP, shows the state was still processing almost 17,000 applications because of July 31.

Rivers Orman, Representative for government agency for expansion access on middle- and low-income housing, said in email they “served over 36,000 households and distributed over $200 million in financing help those who hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic” since June 2021.

Since they are still processing so many applications, Orman couldn’t tell. how a lot of of $130 million will be returned to the US Treasury, but since Reeve announcement they’re watching the surge in new applications and recertifications.

Typical Applicant in Mississippi was black and female, according to Home Corps shows. Less than a third of applicants were unemployed, but almost 70% earned less than area average income where they lived.

BUT coalition of non-profit organizations working for help people apply for in program said it’s hard to access especially in state that is fighting with high illiteracy rates and low broadband availability.

Jeremy Smith, who leads the Union of Tenants 662 in a small City of Delta, said he knew numerous tenants who fallen out of process because it took months to get a response, and the Mississippi Home Corporation was often difficult to contact.

” program was broken out startSmith said, who helped dozens of tenants apply.

Pahedra Robinson, who runs Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative in Jackson told her group traveled around the state to run clinics for those who required help application for in program.

She said they would have to bring computers and help people sign up for email accounts for in first time. More clinics are planned. over in next month, but they will have to be canceled because of Riva decision she said.

“A lot of of these people were able to afford where they lived before this explosion of the rent is going up and now it’s spike causes serious financial questions for families,” Robinson said. – It just Not available for a lot of of people and I don’t think the management paid due attention to this of it’s a state.”

Other states with Republican governors such as Nebraska and Arkansas previously declined federal funding that help residents pay for housing and utilities.

Right. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas rejected hundreds of millions of dollars that would be sent to their states, claiming that they protect residents from socialist programs they are not need.

“We must protect against big government socialism where people encouraged not to work but instead recommended to rely on government handouts after an emergency overRicketts said. in March. “We cannot justify the requests for federal aid when Nebraska has the lowest unemployment rate rate in nation and we are no more in State of emergency.”

But non-commercial in these states said otherwise story as governors withdrew federal aid in Spring.

Together Omaha, which managed the rental assistance application process. for Since then, the state has had to struggle to provide rental assistance, according to CEO Mike Hornacek.

“Across the board, we’re all weathering the perfect storm we’ve all been worried about in non-profit sector, which need continues at the same level as during the pandemic, and funding stops,” he said.

“Unfortunately, in certain cases like our in Nebraska, some of leadership just doesn’t seem to understand that it’s not as easy as people need get back to work.”


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