Whitmer signs $2.2 billion COVID-19 relief for food and rental assistance

Another $2.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money is on its way to Michigan families and businesses after a bill was signed into law Wednesday.

The money will go toward food assistance, rent relief, disaster response services, paying off interest, and local governmental aid.

The latest bill, a bipartisan package approved by the legislature and signed into law by the Michigan governor, is part of several billions of dollars the state is able to leverage as the federal government works to keep governments and citizens afloat during the pandemic.

"With life getting back to normal, we are turning full attention to our state’s economic jumpstart by creating jobs with higher wages, giving small businesses the needed capital to ramp up hiring and boost investment, and making sure every family has access to affordable, quality childcare," said Gretchen Whitmer in a statement.

The biggest slice of the relief funding pie is for SNAP benefits or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. $1.5 billion will go toward increasing food assistance benefits by 15% through September. 

The next pile of money, $378 million will go toward grants to be distributed for rental assistance for people living at 80% or below the area median income. Other parts will go toward emergency rental assistance. 

With a federal moratorium on evictions ending soon, the funding is expected to help many behind on housing payments.

Local governments will get $322 million to offer household assistance, funding for small businesses, and nonprofits. It will also aid the tourism and hospitality industries.

Here is how the remaining money will be spent: 

  • $65.2 million for vendors for emergency and disaster response services like flooding that happened in Midland last summer
  • $21 million for tax vouchers to the Venture Michigan Fund to help the state generate investment money from lenders. Money will be made back in the form of avoiding interest payments

"I’m glad we’re getting these critical FEMA disaster assistance dollars out to impacted communities and putting our federal relief funds to effective use helping struggling Michiganders feed their families, supporting local governments and ensuring people have access to emergency rental assistance," said Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.