Free rent, utility program ending in Mississippi

Published 8:00 am Thursday, August 4, 2022

Wednesday, Gov. Tate Reeves announced Mississippi will end a federal program that gives incentives to people to stay out of the workforce. The Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program has offered up to 15 months free rent and utility bill payments for those who qualify.

Applications to the federal government’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program — RAMP in Mississippi — on Aug. 15, 2022.

The original purpose of ERAP was to help those who had COVID-19-caused hardships. However, the program’s second wave of funding strayed widely from that original intent, no longer requiring applicants to provide proof they cannot pay their rent or utilities due to hardship caused by COVID-19.

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“Mississippi isn’t afraid to make hard decisions to improve our workforce participation. That’s what we’re doing today,” Reeves said. “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 governor said Mississippi is in the best fiscal and financial shape in the state’s history, and a job is available for every resident who wants to work. Reeves noted the following statistics:

  • Mississippi was the 10th best state in the nation for weathering the economic consequences of COVID-19.
  • Mississippi’s unemployment rate recently hit its lowest level in the state’s history. The drop in the unemployment rate since COVID-19 is 13th best in the nation.
  • The state of Mississippi collected approximately $7.4 billion in revenue this past fiscal year – more than $1.45 billion above the initial sine die estimate.
  • Year to date, Mississippi has seen over $1.6 billion in new capital investment. Since Governor Reeves assumed this office, Mississippi has seen almost $4 billion in new capital investment.
  • In 2021, Mississippi had the largest annual increase in employees since the last century. From June 2021 to June 2022, the state increased employment by another 30,000 jobs.

“Mississippi’s COVID-19 State of Emergency ended about eight months ago and we have continued pressing forward. It’s time our state returns to pre-pandemic policies,” Reeves said.

The cut-off only affects applications that have not yet been submitted. Any application submitted prior to the date will be considered for RAMP benefits.