Harrison, Hines May Apply for Federal Rental Assistance Fund

Hines and Harrison counties can apply for a portion of the $100 million or more Emergency Rental Assistance Fund that Governor Tate Reeves will return to the U.S. Treasury Department.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department’s June 28 guidelines, “When practicable and consistent with the needs of the jurisdiction, the Treasury may transfer excess funds from one grantee to another grantee in the same state. Following such intrastate allocations, grantee surplus funds will be reallocated to other states, as appropriate.”

It is not clear whether Hines or Harrison will apply for the funds returned to the federal government from Reeves. Hines County Oversight Board President Credell Calhoun recently said he would inquire about the funding.

The COVID-19 Federal Rental Assistance Program began with the first round of pandemic funding for states in 2020 and continued with subsequent federal funding rounds last year. About $340 million was allocated to Mississippi. Earlier this month, however, Reeves announced that he would be closing applications for the program on August 15 and returning all outstanding funds to the federal government.

The state will likely return more than $100 million, some of which could be available to Hines and Harrison, as well as other states.

Reeves said that by discontinuing the program, he is motivating people to look for work.

In addition to federal laws that fund states, populous counties received direct money for emergency rental assistance. In Mississippi, only Harrison and Hines counties qualified for direct funding.

Hinds mandates an allocation of approximately $15 million. Harrison received about $11.4 million and still has some money left over.

Hope Policy Institute senior policy analyst Sarah Miller said if Hines and Harrison applied for and received some of the state funding, it would only be available in those two counties. .

Bangella Wade, Chief Executive Officer of the Mississippi Justice Center, said: ”

Reeves said in social media posts and at a press conference that Mississippi’s economy is booming and people don’t need rental help.

Reeves said of the program, “Initially, it was intended to help people who are suffering as a direct result of COVID. But like many other government programs on the Democratic Party’s wish list, It is fundamentally lost and no longer serves its original purpose.

Reeves later commented that a Clarksdale landlord pleaded guilty to defrauding the Mississippi rental assistance program in a civil lawsuit in federal court for the Northern District of Mississippi.

Reeves said the announcement was “further proof that the State of Mississippi made the right decision by terminating RAMP. Not only did the program deviate from its original intentions, it also increased the number of potentially malicious applications. Some Democratic politicians have denounced our decision, but the discovery of this fraud scheme further justifies ending the program.”

In a statement earlier this month, Wade, of the Center for Justice, said the governor’s decision was made when a state audit revealed that more than $90 million in welfare funds may have been diverted from poor to poor. He said it was “ironic” that he was talking about fraud involving the poor. Volleyball He is a supporter of many of the state’s political leaders for projects ranging from building courts to buying cars and homes.

Based on information provided by the Home Corporation, which Reeves used to oversee the Mississippi program, approximately 65% ​​of applicants approved to receive funding through the program are employed, with the majority being black and female. is.

According to U.S. Census data for the week ending July 11, 44.5% of adults in Mississippi surveyed reported being behind in rent or mortgage payments, and will be in arrears in the next two months. Eviction or foreclosure is very likely or moderately likely within.

At the same time last year, 60.5% reported a high likelihood of eviction or foreclosure. During the pandemic, Mississippi sometimes led the nation in the percentage of people reporting potential evictions and foreclosures.

Reeves reported in early August that 86,146 people had applied for the program and 36,889 had been approved for help. It’s not clear how many additional applications have been approved in the last few weeks the Home Corporation has been accepting applications.

— Article credit to Mississippi Today’s Bobby Harrison —

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