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An additional $58 million in rental assistance is on its way to renters and landlords

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(Photo by Photo Mix from Pixabay)

More help is coming to Mississippi renters and landlords who are facing economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But federal and state officials will have to prioritize the efficient delivery of these dollars if they want to prevent an eviction avalanche in coming months. Mississippi has spent just a sliver of the rental assistance funding it received over the summer so far.

The Mississippi Legislature passed a bill Thursday evening to divert $20 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, which had been earmarked for small businesses, to residential and commercial landlords who have lost rent revenue after various eviction moratoriums. Mississippi Development Authority will administer the grants, up to $30,000, and no more than 25% may go to commercial properties.

The Legislature’s appropriation for rental assistance comes nearly seven months after the pandemic began in March, causing Mississippi’s unemployed population to spike from 64,286 to 195,429 people in one month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Separately, Gov. Tate Reeves’ office plans to announce shortly its decision to allocate the entirety of the state’s $38 million Community Development Block Grant from the CARES Act to rental assistance. The recurring federal Community Development Block Grant gives states flexibility to use the funds to expand economic opportunity for low-income communities through infrastructure development, rehabilitation projects and business revitalization.

But for this round, Reeves saw the greatest need among Mississippi’s low-income renters, thousands of whom face large rent debts after months without work due to the pandemic, even if they’ve since returned to their jobs. The assistance also stabilizes landlords, who might be struggling to pay mortgages due to the decline in collections.

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for so many families, and we want to provide some much needed help to get through. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the right way to use these funds,” Reeves said in a statement to Mississippi Today Thursday evening.

The money will flow through the Mississippi Development Authority to the Mississippi Home Corporation, which already oversees the existing Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program (RAMP).

A little less than a third of the state’s population — 915,000 people — live in Mississippi’s 352,000 renter households. A July study by global advisory firm Stout Risius Ross shows as high as 58% of those households were at risk of eviction. The national figure was about 43%.

READ MORE: More than half of Mississippi renters could face eviction during pandemic without protections from Congress.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered a stop to some evictions and residential removals beginning Sept. 4 to the end of the year, but a renter must provide a declaration to their landlord or property manager, certifying that the order applies to them.

Mississippi Home Corporation already began administering $18 million in rental assistance over the summer from a pot of funds called the Emergency Solution Grants (ESG) program at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Also a recurring grant, Emergency Solutions Grants are typically targeted to serve the homeless population and for rapid rehousing, which mean they have stricter regulations and eligibility criteria than other funding sources.

The federal housing authority offered states nearly $3 billion total in additional ESG funding due to COVID-19. Mississippi Home Corporation put the funds in the existing RAMP program, which three continuum of care agencies across the state are administering.

As of Sept. 11, the three organizations had received 2,460 calls for help, approved 404 for the program and obligated $1.01 million to aid those renters. 463 applications were still in process.

“Everyone is working as fast as they can and there are so many I’s to dot and T’s to cross,” said Mississippi Home Corporation Director Scott Spivey.

“A lot of these funds, the way the rules were written, the money is supposed to be spent on rapid rehousing for people who are homeless, not those in danger of getting kicked out of their apartment,” he said. “In a pandemic, you have to be flexible with those rules, but in government, flexibility and regulation do not go together. They’re oil and water.”

Of the 1,046 that were denied, which usually means they did not meet the income limit of earning under 50% of the median income in their local area, 433 qualified for other assistance and 613 did not.

In Jackson, a family of four would have to earn under $35,450 to qualify. The Community Development Block Grant will offer more flexibility with renter eligibility.

Spivey said his agency is already working on an online application for the program, so that when Mississippi Development Authority is finished negotiating the grant with the federal government, they can hit the ground running.

“When they’re ready to go, we’re ready to go, so it can be as fast as possible and reach as many people as possible,” Spivey said.

“People are behind on rent,” he added. “We’re working on programs and working on eligibility, between the governor, the Legislature, MDA, Mississippi Home Corporation, we’re all pulling in the right direction, trying to get people help.”

The city of Jackson also received a COVID-19 Emergency Solutions Grant of $575,228. It gave the entirety of the grant to the Salvation Army, minus administrative costs. Jackson is eligible to apply for an additional $1.4 million, a city spokesperson told Mississippi Today in mid-September.

Mississippians in need of rental assistance should contact the Continuum of Care program covering their region: Central Mississippi Continuum of Care (769-237-1012) covers Hinds, Rankin, Madison, Warren and Copiah counties; Open Doors Homeless Coalition (228-604-2048) covers Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Stone and George counties and Mississippi United to End Homelessness (601-960-0557) covers the rest of the state.

Read how to invoke the CDC’s eviction moratorium here.


This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

COVID-19

Mississippi’s seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases remains over 600 Monday

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Sunday and Monday saw the expected weekend drop in reported new COVID-19 cases and deaths. Mississippi’s seven-day average remains above 600.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported three new COVID-19 cases Sunday in Warren County and no new cases Monday. No new deaths were reported either day. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,470, and the county’s death toll is 53.

Statewide, MSDH reported 294 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 296 cases Monday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 105,228. The seven-day average of new cases is 646, higher by 197 cases from a month ago.

Most new cases are seen in younger people recently, and they are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. By far, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are young people from 18 to 29 years old.

MSDH reported Sunday that five additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. No new deaths were reported Monday. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,101. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 3%.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day was 67 reported Aug. 25.

MSDH reported Sunday that five deaths occurred between Oct. 5 and Oct. 10 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Sunday
Lafayette 1
Leflore 1
Marion 1
Montgomery 1
Tate 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, and Sunday, Oct. 11. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations nearly tripled by late July. They leveled off in early August and began noticeably dropping in the middle of the month including critical cases and numbers of people requiring ventilators. Hospitalizations continued to drop in September but levelled off at the middle of the month. They continued to drop through Oct. 3; however, they began showing a definite rise last week.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, is 600, about half of the late July peak of more than 1,200. The number includes 491 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 109 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 136 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 59 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 90,577 through Sunday, Oct. 4. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 86% of the cumulative 105,228 cases reported Monday, Oct. 11.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Monday, Sept. 21, was 1,381, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,328, or about 90.3% of the 1,470 cumulative cases reported as of Monday, Oct. 11. The county has an estimated 89 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Sunday, Oct. 3, is 863,957 or about 29% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. The positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 6.3% Sunday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 5%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 126 Monday. About 40.1%, or 1,258, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities.

A total of 25 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced it with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data here. The latest data available is for the week ending Sept. 27.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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Third spike in COVID-19 cases reported Saturday; seven-day average over 600

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With another spike of new COVID-19 cases Saturday, the third in a week, Mississippi’s seven-day average was above 600 for the first time in over a month, further indicating the state may be seeing the beginning of a new surge in cases. Hospitalizations have also continued to rise throughout the week.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported eight new COVID-19 cases in Warren County Saturday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,467, and the county’s death toll is 53.

Statewide, MSDH reported 957 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 104,638. The seven-day average of new cases is 638, higher by 180 cases from a month ago.

Most new cases are seen in younger people recently, and they are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. By far, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are young people from 18 to 29 years old.

MSDH reported Saturday that 16 additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,096. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 3%.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day was 67 reported Aug. 25.

MSDH reported Saturday that 10 deaths occurred between Sept. 23 and Oct. 9 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Saturday
Alcorn 1
George 1
Hancock 1
Montgomery 1
Panola 1
Stone 1
Tippah 1
Washington 2
Winston 1

Six COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Sept. 25 and Oct. 1 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified on death certificate reports
Desoto 1
Hinds 1
Lee 1
Madison 1
Panola 1
Scott 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations nearly tripled by late July. They leveled off in early August and began noticeably dropping in the middle of the month including critical cases and numbers of people requiring ventilators. Hospitalizations continued to drop in September but levelled off at the middle of the month. They continued to drop through Oct. 3; however, they have shown a definite rise this week.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, is 600, about half of the late July peak of more than 1,200. The number includes 491 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 109 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 136 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 59 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 90,577 through Sunday, Oct. 4. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 86.6% of the cumulative 104,638 cases reported Saturday, Oct. 10.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Saturday, Sept. 19, was 1,380, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,327, or about 90.5% of the 1,467 cumulative cases reported as of Saturday, Oct. 10. The county has an estimated 87 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Saturday, Oct. 3, is 863,957 or about 29% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. The positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 5.9% Friday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 4.9%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 126 Saturday. About 40.5%, or 1,254, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities.

A total of 25 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced it with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data here. The latest data available is for the week ending Sept. 27.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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Another spike in Mississippi’s new COVID-19 cases reported Friday

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On Friday, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Mississippi is almost 100 cases higher than it was a month ago, further indicating the state may be seeing the beginning of a new surge in cases. Hospitalizations have also continued to rise throughout the week.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported seven new COVID-19 cases in Warren County Friday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,459, and the county’s death toll is 53.

Statewide, MSDH reported 862 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 103,681. The seven-day average of new cases is 589, higher by nearly 100 cases from where it was a month ago.

Most new cases are seen in younger people recently, and they are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. By far, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are young people from 18 to 29 years old.

MSDH reported Friday that six additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,080. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 3%.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day was 67 reported Aug. 25.

MSDH reported Friday that six deaths occurred between Sept. 19 and Oct. 8 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Friday
Bolivar 1
Desoto 2
Newton 1
Sunflower 1
Walthall 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations nearly tripled by late July. They leveled off in early August and began noticeably dropping in the middle of the month including critical cases and numbers of people requiring ventilators. Hospitalizations continued to drop in September but levelled off at the middle of the month. They continued to drop through Oct. 3; however, they have shown a definite rise this week.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, is 606, about half of the late July peak of more than 1,200. The number includes 472 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 134 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 139 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 66 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 90,577 through Sunday, Oct. 4. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 87.4% of the cumulative 103,681 cases reported Friday, Oct. 9.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Friday, Sept. 18, was 1,366, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,313, or about 90% of the 1,459 cumulative cases reported as of Friday, Oct. 9. The county has an estimated 93 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Saturday, Oct. 3, is 863,957 or about 29% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. The positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 5.6% Thursday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 4.8%, and 5% indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 128 Friday. About 40.6%, or 1,249, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities.

A total of 25 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced it with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data here. The latest data available is for the week ending Sept. 27.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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