At our monthly board meeting on September 8 (via Zoom) we honored our 2020 Recognizing Achievement Scholar, Shajasha R. Lee. Shajasha is currently studying at IUPUI in Indianapolis with plans to go into medicine, and she received her certificate and $500 award before leaving for college in August.
Like so many other things the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we here at the township are doing business. For example, while applications for our scholarship were down this year due to students being out of classes most of the spring, the demand for school supplies in August was up by over 40%. Many parents who can afford it are choosing to keep their kids home from school this fall, but for those essential workers who don’t have that option the need for school supplies for their children, including masks and hand sanitizers, is great. Jennifer Welsh, township accountant headed up that project again this year.
We have also noticed that while our cost in assistance for utilities was somewhat lower during the early summer, for the month of August the dollar amount of the requests has been several times higher, as folks are now faced with final notices after the earlier moratoriums on disconnections from the utility companies came to an end. If those customers were not able to keep paying on their bills during the moratorium, they are now faced with very large bills that they are even less able to handle.
The moratorium on evictions also came to an end, but was then extended to the end of the year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has determined that it is in the public interest to keep people from being evicted during the economic downturn to prevent a wave of homelessness from overwhelming the social safety net. There are, however, court challenges to this order so it remains to be seen if it will actually last until the end of the year.
While there have been efforts from all levels of government and various social service agencies to help people during this economic downturn, much is required from those seeking assistance as well. It is important for clients to remember, for example, that they may have been given an extension on an electric bill or water bill, but the bill is still theirs to pay and will eventually come due. When clients request assistance from the township they are asked to show what they have done with any moneys that may have come in, like tax refunds or the stimulus payments Congress approved earlier this year. In order to qualify for assistance the applicant must show that the majority of those payments went toward their basic necessities. If not, then the amount spent otherwise is deducted from the assistance they are eligible for.
The mantra heard most often these days is that ‘we are all in this together’ and to us that means that we all must do our part; our clients, our landlords and property managers and vendors of every stripe. It is our mission to help Wayne Township citizens in times of need, and we are happy to be a part of the solution.