Lansing Update: Programs to Help Poor & Vulnerable Included in Budget Signed into Law

This week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the fiscal year 2024 budget, which contains several critical programs for feeding the poor, providing for children in foster care, increasing the availability of affordable housing, and more.

A smiling, older woman holding a bowl of soup in a soup kitchen.

Here is a rundown of the items of interest to the Michigan Catholic Conference that made it into the final budget:

Mothers and Children

The finished budget kept $4.4 million in diaper assistance grants for diaper assistance programs, maternity homes, and other nonprofit agencies that distribute diapers free of charge, which will help mothers and families in need. The spending plan also included:

Serving the Poor and Vulnerable

Lawmakers increased by $2.8 million the annual back-to-school clothing allowance for eligible children in the Family Independence Program, bringing the allocation to $10 million total.

An additional three months of food assistance was funded for victims of domestic violence or human trafficking. The budget also eliminates the five-year eligibility waiting period for legal resident immigrants to obtain Medicaid coverage.

Other programs to help the poor and vulnerable in our state provided for in the budget include:

Gun Safety

There were several funding provisions related to gun safety and suicide prevention, including funding to distribute gun safety equipment.

These items included $600,000 to create a state Office of Community Violence, which the budget stipulates can use funding to distribute trigger locks and gun safety boxes to households where a child is present, and education and outreach materials and services to interested private community organizations, firearm retailers, and operators of gun ranges related to suicide prevention.

Another $500,000 was provided to distribute gun safety equipment to public and law enforcement agencies. Additionally, budget language stipulates that certain state agencies can use funds appropriated for firearms safety to distribute gun safety equipment to the public and law enforcement agencies at no cost.

Immigrant Services

Lawmakers allocated $3 million to provide legal services, housing support, staffing, and outreach for foreign-born non-citizens in this state.

Affordable Housing

The budget allocates $50 million to, in part, expand access to affordable housing across the state.

There was also a $7 million grant allocated toward the Pope Francis Center in Detroit for a housing project. The center serves the homeless in Detroit by providing meals, supportive services, crisis response, and housing assistance, according to its website.

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