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Whitmer asks GOP to approve ARP funds for affordable housing

close up of Gretchen Whitmer
Photo courtesy of www.senate.mi.gov/whitmer
State Senator Gretchen Whitmer

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has toured much of the state this week to build support for using American Rescue Plan funds for affordable housing.

Whitmer’s stops included Detroit, Jackson, and Kalamazoo. She’s hoping to win legislative approval to commit $100 million from the federal government for housing.

She says that could leverage another $380 million dollars in private sector investment.

“Right now, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to give thousands of Michiganders a safe place to call home,” she said at the Detroit event.

“It’s no surprise that our housing challenges, like so many issues, have been exacerbated and come into sharp focus during the pandemic,” she said. “But they preceded the pandemic and our work must continue beyond the pandemic.”

Gary Heidel with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority said that money would create new places to live in urban, suburban and rural areas of Michigan.

“It’s very difficult to work in rural areas,” he said. “Incomes are low. Costs are still high, so the projects are smaller, and a lot of the projects that we have right now are geared toward larger-sized projects.”

The money could also be used to help keep up with mortgage payments or utility assistance under the Whitmer plan.

Whitmer and the Legislature’s Republican leadership are still negotiating over the budget, including how to use the ARP funds. GOP leaders want assurances the commitments won’t extend beyond what the American Rescue Plan will pay for.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.