Two years ago, Michigan’s system for providing emergency aid to families was burdensome and broken.
The state denied residents help keeping the heat on if they had more than $50 in the bank. To get food assistance, even homeless people often had to produce bank statements. In many counties, a third of applicants faced delays of more than a month before getting a decision on health or food benefits.
Over the last two years, under the leadership of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Robert Gordon, Michigan made it easier to get and keep important benefits. The state now provides additional resources to low-income individuals, seeks to treat residents with respect and has reduced pointless complexity. Many challenges remain and the department’s new leader, Elizabeth Hertel, has an opportunity to accelerate these improvements. Read the full column here.