WATCH: Whitmer announces Poverty Task Force

gretchen whitmer
Posted at 9:15 AM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 12:30:40-05

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer again called on the state Legislature to deploy $5 million in federal COVID-19 relief allocated to Michigan.

The governor also announced the creation of a poverty-focused task force.

The group presented 35 policy recommendations to Whitmer that they believe will help low-income Michiganders transcend poverty.

Examples of the report’s recommendations include:

· Benefits: Commission a comprehensive study on outcomes for former state assistance recipients and adopt a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) shelter stipend

· Economics: Increase access to Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit; support and incubate children’s savings accounts; and expand the housing choice voucher pilot program between the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority and the Michigan Department of Corrections

· Criminal Justice: Expand apprenticeship opportunities for inmates while incarcerated; and divert people with behavioral health needs away from the justice system

· Health, Safety and Housing: Create child support pass-through to families who receive or have received cash assistance; and fund the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund

· Education: Expand the Great Start Readiness Program; expand Early Childhood Home Visiting and Maternal-Infant Health programs; increase income eligibility for child care; and expand school breakfast and breakfast-after-the-bell programs

“The economic impact and hardships this pandemic has imposed on so many Michiganders only makes the work of this task force more critical,” Whitmer said. “These recommendations will help us ensure that Michigan families have access to the support they need. I look forward to working across the aisle and with our many stakeholders to implement the recommendations that have the biggest impact across our state.”

RELATED: Michigan reports 775 new COVID-19 cases, 19 more deaths

RELATED: 90 cases of COVID-19 variant discovered in prison

Watch the news conference:

Chief Medical Executive Joneigh Khaldun says she continues to be encouraged by COVID-19 case trends in the state.

Hospitalizations, case rates, deaths and outbreaks are all significantly lower than they were during their peaks in November.

However, officials continue paying close attention to the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, which is considered more contagious.

"Everyone has a role to play in preventing the spread of this variant, as there may be more cases we don't know about," Khaldun said.