Program: Family independence program

Appropriation:

Federal Funds:

$168,339,400

 

Special Revenue Funds:

$50,449,300

 

GF/GP:

$157,550,900

 

Total:

$376,339,600[34]

Program Description:

This appropriation funds the Family Independence Program (FIP). FIP provides a monthly cash assistance grant for families. This cash assistance is supposed to cover the costs of personal needs such as school clothing, housing, heat, utilities, and food. The projected monthly caseload for 2003 is 92,100 cases.[35]

Recommended Action:

The state should eliminate this program. Michigan’s civil society — which includes individuals, nonprofits, religious organizations, businesses and fraternal organizations — works to help people in need and will continue to do so.

Ultimately, the goal of future political leaders should be to eliminate this expenditure in favor of a social safety net for the poor that is provided entirely by voluntary associations: charitable groups, religious organizations, neighbors and families. This can be done. Part of the damage inflicted by welfare programs has been to encourage people to wonder how we ever got along without the programs. Consequently, people find it difficult to believe the poor can be helped any other way. This is unfortunate, because today we have more means at hand to help the poor than at any other time in human history. But they can be fully released only if we lower taxes on Michigan citizens commensurately to ensure that families and individuals are in the best position to take care of their own and to donate more to social service charities.

One private group dedicated to providing a private social safety net is “New Focus National,” a faith-based training organization that cultivates change in families’ finances and relationships so that they can move from the welfare rolls to self-sufficiency. Organizations such as this exist to serve Michigan citizens, in one form or another, in virtually every community in Michigan.

The greatest need of these families and individuals is jobs. In addition to examining how religious and community groups are already meeting the needs of the poor, the state must also consider how some regulations stifle opportunities for the unemployed, and for low-income workers. Savings: $18,816,980.

Program: Food assistance program

Appropriation:

Federal Funds:

$833,011,200

 

Total:

$833,011,200[36]

Program Description:

This appropriation funds the food assistance program. The goal of this program is to raise the food purchasing power of low-income persons.

Recommended Action:

The state should eliminate this program. Michigan’s civil society — which includes individuals, nonprofits, religious organizations, businesses and fraternal organizations — works to help people in need and will continue to do so.

Ultimately, the goal of political leaders should be to eliminate this expenditure in favor of a state social safety net for the poor that is provided entirely by voluntary associations: charitable groups, churches, neighbors and families. The primary need of most people in the food assistance program is not food, it is a job that will enable them to use their own resources to purchase food. For those who still are unable to find work and need food, several good non-governmental options exist. One example of such a program is Hidden Harvest, located in Saginaw. Hidden Harvest is a “food rescue” program that collects surplus food from restaurants, food wholesalers, grocery stores, and other health department-certified sources. This food is then delivered in a refrigerated truck to soup kitchens, shelters and other agencies serving hungry people. Each year Hidden Harvest obtains and distributes more than 225,000 pounds of food on a budget of less than $10,000. Savings: $41,650,560.

Program: State emergency relief

Appropriation:

Federal Funds:

$14,795,600

 

GF/GP:

$30,991,500

 

Total:

$45,787,100[37]

Program Description:

This appropriation funds the state emergency relief program. The goal of this program is to prevent serious harm to individuals and families by helping them obtain safe, decent and affordable shelter and other essentials when they face an emergency due to circumstances beyond their control.[38]

Recommended Action:

The state should eliminate this program. Michigan’s civil society — which includes individuals, nonprofits, religious organizations, businesses and fraternal organizations — works to help people in need and will continue to do so.

These private human welfare service providers could do a great deal more if government did not: a) crowd them out with programs of its own; b) take from citizens the very money (in taxes) they might otherwise contribute to these organizations; and c) engage in charity that requires nothing of the recipient.

Michigan’s government should step aside and allow charitable organizations to do the work they are most qualified to do. This would not only be of the greatest help to the poor; it also would revitalize community life by giving those more fortunate the opportunity to take personally the task of caring for their less fortunate neighbors.

There are numerous non-profit organizations who can fill this societal role. Many churches take care of such needs in their own areas. Large organizations such as American Red Cross, Catholic Social Services, and Lutheran Social Services, while they may receive a portion of their funding from various government entities, regularly provide emergency relief and could do so without government stipends. One example of a local operation is the Holland Rescue Mission, which provides emergency and long-term assistance in moving clients in to lives of responsibility and independence. The Mission offers numerous programs: a men’s emergency shelter, a women/children’s shelter, a children’s ministry, a men’s discipleship program, an industrial training program, a community food bank, a thrift store, a volunteer program, and chapel services. The mission attempts to foster personal responsibility among the poor and homeless. Employed homeless men who stay at the shelter are required to save their money in a custodial account. In the discipleship program, men are encouraged to be responsible for themselves and must report to a mentor. About 60 people reside at the mission full-time to take advantage of its programs. In addition, thousands receive meals and overnight lodgings. Savings: $45,787,100.

Program: Weatherization assistance

Appropriation:

Federal Funds:

$10,900,000

 

Total:

$10,900,000[39]

Program Description:

This appropriation funds the Weatherization Assistance Program. Michigan’s Weatherization Assistance Program is a low-income residential energy conservation program. The program provides free home energy conservation services to low-income Michigan homeowners and renters. Services include wall insulation, attic insulation and ventilation, foundation insulation, air-leakage reduction, smoke detectors, and dryer venting.[40]

Recommended Action:

The state should eliminate this program. Michigan’s civil society — which includes individuals, nonprofits, religious organizations, businesses and fraternal organizations — works to help people in need and will continue to do so.

Multiple nonprofit programs assist with weatherization throughout the state; two will be highlighted. Westown Jubilee Housing, Inc. is committed to improving and stabilizing the housing stock in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This grass roots, faith-based ministry has housed 70 homeless families in its transitional shelter, provided 23 rental units for low-income families, and has assisted 29 local families in becoming homeowners. Each family is coached by a volunteer who encourages the homeowner and offers guidance on home maintenance. In addition, each homeowner must complete a financial management class that teaches the principles of budgeting and stewardship.

Another example is Home Repair Services of Kent County, which allows lower-income homeowners to borrow power saws, electric drills, ladders, hand tools and many other items for a refundable deposit of $5. The program offers free home maintenance classes with no eligibility qualifications. One program run by Home Repair is The Builders’ Abundance store, which is collects donations of surplus building material and sells them at 20 percent to 30 percent of their retail value. Each working day, Home Repair Services dispatches six service technicians (electricians, builders, etc.) into surrounding neighborhoods to handle the most urgent and critical repair problems facing qualifying lower-income homeowners. The charge to the homeowner is only 10 percent of the job’s total cost. These service technicians are supplemented by hundreds of other subcontractors and volunteers each year. Home Repair Services is also helping lower-income homeowners to avoid foreclosure, bring delinquent mortgages current, and build equity. Home Repair Services even helps lower income homeowners make their homes lead-safe for their children.[41] Savings: $10,900,000.

Program: Day care services

Appropriation:

Federal Funds:

$259,320,000

 

GF/GP:

$207,490,000

 

Total:

$466,810,000[42]

Program Description:

This appropriation funds day care services. The goal of this program is to provide available, affordable and quality child day care to qualifying Michigan residents when a caretaker is unavailable to do so due to “employment, education, and/or health/social condition.”[43]

Recommended Action:

This program should be eliminated. Civil society has provided day care from time immemorial. Grandparents, parents, aunts, cousins, neighbors and religious organizations are responsible (and may be most qualified) for this role in civil society. Lawmakers should consider removing the regulatory roadblocks must also be considered that keep low-income families from offering day care in their homes as a means of augmenting their income. Savings: $466,810,000.