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New policy changes will make it easier for families to receive public assistance

governor gretchen whitmer standing at a podium
Cheyna Roth
Michigan Radio

Updated Dec. 2, 2019 at 10:58 a.m.:

After being delayed one month, new policies, which will make it easier for families to receive public assistance, have now taken effect. 

While there will still be strict income limits, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will allow applicants to have up to $15,000 worth of assets, up previously from $5,000 for food assistance and $500 for state emergency assistance. Assets can include cash, but not cars, and applicants will not have to provide bank statements showing the amounts in their accounts. 

The state says that reducing the amount of paperwork will make it quicker for applicants to receive their benefits, as well as lightening the workload for caseworkers. 

MDHHS says the changes will bring Michigan into the "mainstream of states." More information can be found here or at michigan.gov/MDHHS.

Original post: Oct. 17, 2019 at 2:17 p.m.

It will soon be easier to qualify for food and cash assistance in Michigan. Starting November 1, a family can have thousands of dollars more in assets – and still be eligible.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it’s a necessary change.

“A family struggling to keep their head above water shouldn’t have to become completely destitute to get a little help,” she said.

The state wants to make it easier for people to apply for public assistance. Instead of filling out an asset checklist and having department employees verify a persons’ assets, the department will take people’s word for what they own and how much money they have.

Robert Gordon is the Director of MDHHS. He says the risk of fraud is low.

“We should not visit the sins of a very few people on hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who are trying to do the right thing and trying to get by,” he said.

The state will also allow families to have thousands of dollars more in assets – and still qualify for food and cash assistance, and State Emergency relief.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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