As of August 15, Mississippi will no longer participate in the Emergency Rental Assistance program, Gov. Tate Reeves announced this week, because it has strayed from its original purpose to help people who were struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the state, approximately 36,000 Mississippians have benefitted from the program that provides rental assistance for up to 15 months. In a second phase of the program, however, applicants no longer had to show proof they couldn’t afford to pay rent or utilities.
Fraud has become rampant in the program from both renters and from landlords, the governor said at a press conference.
Mississippians who are currently participating in the ERA program are not affected but the application process is ending in two weeks.
"We still have too many people in our state that are being paid not to work," Reeves, a first-term Republican governor, said. "Today I am announcing that our state, Mississippi, is taking another step to push back on those left-wing policies that pay people not to work."
Jameson Taylor of AFA Action, which is based in Mississippi, says what lifts people out of poverty is a job.
"Time and again,” Taylor tells AFN, “Mississippi has found that when we eliminate these unnecessary and wasteful federal welfare programs for able-bodied adults, people get off the couch and they get back to work.”
And the Mississippi activist, who keeps an eye on the state government and its economy, has evidence to back that up. In 2018, when Reeves added a work requirement to a food stamp program, it saw a whopping 72% drop in food-stamp participants. In 2021, when Reeves pulled Mississippi from a COVID-related unemployment program, an estimated 300,000 Mississippians went back to work.
Mississippi’s current unemployment rate is 3.8%, a record low, after soaring to 15% unemployment during the spring of 2020, now 2 ½ years ago.
The state often ranks last or near the bottom in education, employment opportunities, and median income, but it also has the lowest cost of living when compared to its neighbors. Mississippi can also boast of high-paying jobs after attracting auto makers Toyota and Nissan, and their related suppliers.
“This decision,” Reeves said, “is about returning to pre-pandemic policies, further strengthening Mississippi's economy, and incentivizing people to work.”
Editor's Note: AFA Action is an affiliate of the American Family Association, the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.