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Michigan Republicans Risk Returning Federal Rental Assistance

Michigan Republicans may leave millions in rental assistance on the table

Plan would allocate only a quarter of federal aid

Many Michiganders struggling with rent, their landlords and advocates heaved a sigh of relief in December when Congress finally passed the $900 (B) billion stimulus, making $25 (B) billion in rental assistance available to Americans, of which over $600 (M) million in Emergency Rental Assistance funds would be allocated to Michigan. It seems that relief was premature.

Michigan Republicans held back much of that rental money, allocating only $165 million in the latest House appropriations bill which is expected to pass in the House on a party-line vote.

The biggest problem with a partial allocation is that one of the conditions of the funding is that 65% of it must be spent by September 30. If not, Michigan must return rental assistance funds to be reallocated to other states. If the money is spent, Michigan can request more to help residents stay in their homes.

“There is no benefit to holding back full disbursement of the money into the State’s Eviction Diversion Program,” said Angana Shah, policy manager for Michigan United. “The money cannot be ‘saved’ and spent for any other purpose. It is earmarked strictly for rental and utility assistance.”

Delays in disbursement likely will result in losing much of Michigan’s share of the Federal funds. Previous assistance funds ran out in mid-December.

“There is now pent-up demand because of this foot-dragging,” said Shah. “Michigan Republicans must allocate all the rental assistance money into the rental assistance program immediately. They must not risk throwing away Michigan taxpayers’ money, which is coming back to help us in time of need, for pointless political gamesmanship.”

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