At Wayne Township most people understand our job to be assisting the citizens of Wayne Township with rent, mortgage, utilities, medical, food, and burial needs if they meet our income guidelines due to temporary or emergency conditions. Although this part of our process is very heartwarming, the statutes are set so that there is a fair balance between the citizens paying the tax revenue for assistance, and those receiving it. Only those “most in need” qualify and many people who still need help rely greatly on the ability of the Trustee and local agencies, churches, and community leaders to form a safety net of compassionate assistance. This is the true beauty of Township Government, the government closest to the people. Whereas the resulting problems are generally the same, the conditions leading to them are different and on a local level, and must be solved as such.
Townships are not obligated to assist people who do not put forth personal effort. Township investigators review the applicant’s income, and expenditures, this is part of determining the clients eligibility for township assistance. As Trustee, I firmly believe in protecting taxpayers’ resources against waste and abuse.
Therefore, at Wayne Township, we emphasize the requirement that applicants must have attempted to help themselves when at all possible.
There are, however, emergency situations that arise. The Indiana statues define an emergency as a set of unforeseen circumstances, beyond the control of the applicant that can only be remedied by township assistance.
While the Township has compassion for those in need, we may only assist those who are eligible. Unfortunately, one’s eligibility is not determined simply by one’s need.
For those who may not qualify for township assistance, our Community Resource Specialist seeks out alternative resources to help those clients from other community agencies.
At times problems arise that cannot be solved by township assistance. The recent publicity regarding Nipsco deposits is a clear representation of this point. Wayne Township has been active in the struggle to alleviate high utility deposits for the past two years and have held a number of community summit meetings on the subject. Our approach has always been proactive. We began a ministerial outreach that provided all the information necessary to apply for assistance. We invited over 400 of the Fort Wayne clergy to our office and provided them with copies of our procedures and even application forms to give to their parishioners. We hoped by making more people more aware of our application process, they would apply before their services were disconnected. Over 100 ministers responded to our outreach and took our applications back to their churches. We also provided presentations to hospitals, other social agencies and neighborhood associations in an attempt to make sure that the general public was aware. We continue these efforts through our Web page and our long-term community outreach information programs.
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