Meridian Cares Program Provides Update to the Community

Meridian Cares Program Provides Update to the Community

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, MI - The Township Board held a virtual meeting on Tuesday, May 19th.

The virtual meeting went live at 6:00pm on several social media platforms, such as Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube. Human Services Specialist of Meridian Township, Darla Jackson, was also present at Tuesday's virtual Township Board meeting and spoke to the board to provide an update about the Meridian Cares program to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, since the executive order has taken place since March.

Meridian Cares has existed for over 40 years to help residents in Meridian Township financially, so people won’t end up facing evictions and go hungry on the street, along with utility assistance. Jackson says, “I think this program is very unique to this community and shows a lot of empathy we have for the public. I’ve never known any other community to have this kind of program.”

Jackson admits when the stay home executive order was put into place she was nervous, and thought the need of people would rise drastically, and also brought up a number of factors why she had not seen that. “The economic stimulus hit, higher amounts of people receiving unemployment, as well as a moratorium of evictions. I think that has provided economic relief up to this point. The moratorium of evictions lasts a few more weeks and that makes me nervous,” Jackson said.

Most of the people Jackson has talked to through Meridian Cares did not know they were qualified for a lot of the programs, or didn’t know how to access them. Jackson says, “Part of the problem is there is a lot of unemployment, I’ve looked at economic forecasts and up to 400,000 people in Michigan will be unemployed. The restaurant and entertainment industry are predicting to be the slowest rebound and unfortunately women have been hit harder than men as far as unemployment is concerned, which does not go well for a single family household since they are generally headed by women.” With massive unemployment still going on, Jackson feels that there will be more people who will need more assistance more than once.

Meridian Cares has raised $14,500 and Jackson states that may not be enough and added, “Meridian Cares has spent between $10,000 and $12,000 a year. Although last year it was much closer to $17,000, but that was serving people that had relatively low expenses, and with a tight labor market and low unemployment rate. With people unable to return to work quickly, those costs are going to go up. It’s now May 19th and the courts have not been in session since March, and when they reopen in June, we have the potential to see rent bill at thousands of dollars.”

Jackson does find that discerning because most of the households that she has talked to in the past that live paycheck to paycheck were used to this scenario and has been seeing people with greater expenses that aren’t used to this system, and need a walk through on how to get assistance. “It’s quite possible we’re going to see different expenses that people need help with. Some of the biggest variables we have at this point are the length of time where in with the stay home order and how long the virus will last, and if there is a second wave. We’re trying our best to be prepared for whatever lies ahead for us, but at this point it is extremely difficult and has been in my office for the last 6 to 8 weeks,” Jackson said.

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