Gazebo Gazette

Governor Tate Reeves said on Wednesday, August 3 that Mississippi is ending a federal program in the state that incentivizes people to stay out of the workforce by offering up to 15 months of free rent and utility bill payments.

At the direction of Governor Reeves, Mississippi Home Corporation will stop accepting applications to the federal government’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, effective August 15, 2022.

In Mississippi, this program is referred to as the Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program, or RAMP.

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program was initially designed to help those who had a hardship caused by COVID-19. However, the program’s second tranche of funding has strayed widely from the program’s original purpose and intent, as it no longer requires applicants to provide proof that they cannot pay their rent or utility bill due to a hardship caused by COVID-19.

“Mississippi isn’t afraid to make hard decisions to improve our workforce participation. That’s what we’re doing today,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “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.”

Governor Reeves underscored that Mississippi is in the best fiscal and financial shape in the state’s history, and there is a job available for every Mississippian who wants to work. He highlighted a range of statistics that show Mississippi’s economy is strong, including:

  • 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,” said Governor Tate Reeves.

“The federal rental assistance program is another COVID-era welfare program that helps explain why people are not getting back to work, even when employers are offering massive hiring bonuses, higher hourly wages, and new flexibility for workers,” said Jameson Taylor, Ph.D., Director of Government Affairs for American Family Association Action. “The ERA program was supposed to be narrowly tailored to help people experiencing significant financial hardship due to COVID-19. Added on top of all the other recent welfare expansions, like expanded Medicaid enrollment and increases in SNAP/food stamps, states are discovering the program is just not necessary. The money is not being used because the demand is not there. It’s time to end this program to prevent fraud and abuse.”

Wednesday’s announcement only applies to applications that have not yet been submitted. If an application to the program has already been submitted, today’s announcement will have no effect on it.