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Wayne County to provide $4.8 million for rental, food assistance

Groceries, including milk, eggs and produce, sitting on a counter.
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Officials display the healthy food low income parents could buy through the pilot program.

With the economic fallout from COVID-19 hitting many people hard, Wayne County says it will use federal government money to help some residents with rental and food assistance.

The county is providing nearly $3.5 million for help with rental payments, and another $400,000 for food. The money comes from the federal CARES Act and other re-allocated federal funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and will be distributed by the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency.

The funds will be available to residents who meet income eligibility guidelines, and live in one of Wayne County’s 34 smaller communities that get HUD money through the county, says Wayne County Deputy Executive Khalil Rahal.

Rahal said the money is clearly not enough to help address all the needs out there right now, but that food and rent assistance were identified as the highest-priority needs by local officials.

Rahal said the aid is aimed at struggling residents who have suffered setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We thought this was a good opportunity to help provide people who are out of work, who are facing poverty, that little bit of relief to keep them in their homes,” Rahal said. “So they don’t get kicked out in the street, or have bills sort of stacked up, because they’ve lost their job, or because they’ve fallen on hard times due to the pandemic.”

Rahal said Wayne Metro should have the money to disburse within a few weeks, and it will likely go fast since aid applications are already “through the roof.” Wayne Metro will team up with Forgotten Harvest to distribute the food.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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