Mississippi aid program gave little help to renters, but millions to a top law firm

Balch & Bingham’s earnings show how states — under pressure to distribute funds — can end up giving no-bid contracts to firms with close political ties

This June, when Tebrica Young stumbled on a new Mississippi aid program for people struggling to pay rent during the pandemic, she thought she had found a lifeline.

Her husband was furloughed in March, and the couple was expecting a second child. They had fallen behind on payments for their two-bedroom apartment in Batesville, a small town an hour south of Memphis.

So Young applied to the Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program, or RAMP, which is supposed to disburse federal funds to state residents in need. But though she and her husband submitted reams of documents and made multiple calls to the RAMP hotline, Young said, the money never arrived.

“Hello I’m still waiting on a response from you guys,” her husband, Tarus Young, wrote in August through the program’s online portal, according to screenshots shared with The Washington Post. “My landlord has ordered to put my things outside and I’m clueless to where my daughter and I will go!”

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