LANSING, Mich, (WLNS) – Governor Whitmer announced that her administration will take a number of actions to provide support for Michigan’s families, restaurants, and small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Whitmer Administration will implement another liquor buyback program for restaurants and bars similar to the one administered earlier this year, as well as partner with Michigan restaurants to allow SNAP benefits for prepared meals. The administration also announced another $2 million for the Eviction Diversion Program to reduce the number of evictions this winter.

“As we head into another Michigan winter, I’ll continue to do everything I can to support our families and small businesses,” said Governor Whitmer. “These actions will ensure that families have the support they need to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads this winter, as well as provide support to local restaurants and small business owners all over the state that are struggling as a result of the pandemic.”

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) is designed to keep Michigan residents who fell behind on their rent during COVID-19 in their homes. 

So far, the program has helped an estimated 16,000 people stay in their homes.

 The program was initiated and funded from Senate Bill 690, which appropriated $880 million in federal dollars from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The Senate bills called for $60 million to be set aside to establish a rental assistance program – of which $50 million has been dedicated to keeping renters in their homes with the remaining $10 million covering case management, legal, and administrative costs. 

Whitmer’s administration will take similar action this winter to provide support for Michigan’s bars and restaurants. 

The Restaurant Meal Program will give eligible food assistance recipients the opportunity to use their benefits to purchase restaurant meals. 

Older adults over 60, people with a disability including those who receive Social Security  Income (SSI) or other disability program benefits, and people experiencing homelessness are among those who are eligible.

 MDHHS is opening the program for restaurants to enroll with the aim of providing diverse and affordable options for eligible participants across the state. Restaurants interested in partnering with MDHHS in this program are asked to visit the MDHHS website, where they can learn more about program requirements and how to enroll. 

As part of the spirits buyback program announced earlier this year, The Michigan Liquor Control Commission bought back almost $3.4 million in spirits from 673 on-premises liquor licensees, providing an average $5,000 in financial relief for bar and restaurant owners during the pandemic.

Governor Whitmer’s announcement comes one day after the Michigan Legislature passed her stimulus plan, which includes $55 million to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available to small businesses across the state that need support this winter.