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Posted on Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Washtenaw County officials bracing for 'hurricane' of human need

By Ryan J. Stanton


This map was presented at Thursday's Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting showing how many families in the area will lose state cash assistance immediately on Oct. 1 under a new four-year limit on welfare benefits. Dozens more could lose benefits in the coming months.

Thousands of Michigan families will lose their welfare benefits in three more weeks as part of a new four-year cap on state cash assistance.

Washtenaw County officials called a special meeting Thursday night to discuss how the county can rise to meet the needs of the many local families soon to be facing new challenges, but they conceded they're up against a formidable, if not impossible, task.

"We are trying to respond to this need at the time when we have the fewest resources in decades," said Mary Jo Callan, director of the Office of Community Development.

County officials said the cuts handed down by Gov. Rick Snyder and the state Legislature exacerbate the already increasing problem of joblessness, homelessness and poverty in Washtenaw County and the rest of Michigan.

"Really the feds and state governments are getting out of the safety net business," Callan said. "They're increasingly walking away and leaving locals to deal with this deluge of need, and these are our neighbors — we can't and we don't want to turn away."

Despite previous estimates that hundreds of families in Washtenaw County could be kicked off state cash assistance immediately on Oct. 1, the real number is actually 72, said Cynthia Maritato, Washtenaw County director for the state Department of Human Services.

But dozens more could lose their benefits in the months to come as they hit either the state's new 48-month cap or the 60-month federal limit, Callan said.

"Every month, we're going to see more and more folks cut off," she said. "And we can try as much as we can to treat this as an opportunity, but the reality is there is way more need than we can respond to. Having said that, we are being as hopeful as we can, and definitely as creative and innovative as we can, to develop some local responses."

'Not a luxury'

Maritato said the 72 families translate into 289 individuals, including 217 children, the bulk of whom are in the Ypsilanti area. She said her office has reached out to the families — including the 19 that live in Ann Arbor — to point them to other community resources.

Over the last six months, emergency financial assistance cases handled through DHS have increased 33 percent locally, according to Maritato. She said her office now receives more than 5,000 calls per day and handles a caseload of more than 50,000 each month.

"A couple years ago, when the unemployment was just ramping up and we were woefully understaffed, our call volume was between 7,000 and 8,000 calls a day," she said.

Maritato said nearly 3,000 Washtenaw County residents currently receive cash assistance benefits each month, and more than 40,000 residents receive food stamps each month.

"We're distributing about $7 million a month into the community," she said. "That's straight-out cash or food benefits. And this money is not a luxury. It goes to pay rent, utilities, food."

Maritato stressed the state's cash assistance provides a modest financial stipend — primarily to pay rent — for extremely low-income families. The maximum stipend per month for a family of three with no income is $492.

To initially qualify for any cash assistance, a family of three can earn no more than $814 per month. The federal poverty level for a family of three is $1,544 a month.

"If we took cash assistance and theoretically took the amount of food assistance that a client could get with zero income, we still only arrive at a little over $1,000 a month," Maritato said, suggesting that even with the most help possible, families still are living in poverty.

Combating homelessness

Julie Steiner, director of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, said local shelters have taken a 40 percent cut in their federal funding that comes through the state.

She announced a new program on Thursday called Housing Access for Washtenaw County that's expected to launch Oct. 1 and provide a single point of entry for housing instability and homelessness services.

By calling 734-961-1999, families struggling financially will be able to receive an assessment of their needs and connect with available resources.

Steiner said SOS Community Services has agreed to take on the challenge of transforming its Housing Crisis Program into the new Housing Access for Washtenaw County.

"We modeled this on a program that has been operating in Grand Rapids for about five years and it has proven to be really quite successful," she said.

Steiner said several groups are working together as a planning team, including SOS, Interfaith Hospitality Network, SafeHouse, Ozone House, Catholic Social Services, Salvation Army, Shelter Association of Washtenaw County and Michigan Ability Partners. Having all of those groups coordinating, Steiner said, is much better than the current situation.

"The way things work right now, a person falls behind on their rent or behind on their utility bill, and they start getting on the phone or going around the county," she said. "And they go to somewhere around 15 different agencies and they get $50 here, maybe $100 from the Salvation Army, maybe their church or synagogue is able to help them out a little bit."

In the end, she said, they're running around like crazy and funding providers often don't know if the families are getting the help they need to forestall eviction.

"By pulling this together into a centralized system, we're now going to cut all that running around out for people and people are going to be able to call one phone number," she said.

"After about a year, we should be able to have a much better understanding of what the need is and how our resources are helping or not helping."

Steiner said various groups in the community also are working on implementation of a centralized intake for local utility resources through the Salvation Army.

Providers of services to homeless families also are working together to increase the number of subsidies available to homeless children, Steiner said.

"Last year there were 800 homeless children in the public schools in Washtenaw County," she noted. "That was up from 600 from the year before. So how many more are there going to be in 2011? That's our biggest fear about this DHS cut. What are people going to do?"

Access to food and jobs

Patricia Denig, director of the county's work force development department, said many of the people receiving cash assistance struggle with barriers to employment like lack of education, illiteracy, disabilities, child care and transportation issues.

"We're working locally on a strategy to assist these individuals within our other workforce programs and really with an effort to move them into gainful employment as quickly as possible, but recognizing our economic times," she said.

Denig said the county is working to launch a job development, training, support and placement pilot program supported by the governor's office and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. She said it would be based in Ypsilanti within walking distance of high-poverty areas.

"It is something the state is really wanting to push," she said. "We understand we could be the first pilot to go out there."

Denig said the program would target lower-skilled, chronically unemployed residents and would be focused on budding agribusiness and food sectors. The county plans to work with nonprofits, educational institutions, the business sector and other public entities.

From a food assistance standpoint, Steiner said Food Gatherers has implemented a food security plan working with all providers in the community that have food pantries to try to create a system where there's less duplication of efforts and expanded access to food.

"They are also out there helping people sign up for food stamps at food pantries," she said. "So it's another effort to bring the services to people where they are."

Steiner also said the Washtenaw County Health Initiative has implemented a public benefits outreach program to provide centralized access to Medicaid enrollment assistance and other health programs targeted to low-income households. Washtenaw Health Plan and Safety Net Health providers also are working together to improve coordination of service delivery.

Protecting local funding


Leah Gunn

Thursday's presentation to the county board was a sales pitch of sorts — a plea to commissioners not to reduce the county's general fund support for human services programs.

"The support that you all provide is unbelievable to this community, and with the cuts that are coming from Washington and from Lansing, your support is just absolutely critical," Steiner said, reminding commissioners that for every $1 of local government investment in nonprofit human service agencies, $12 of external funding is brought into the community.

Multiple commissioners made known their intentions to protect funding for safety net services. Through a coordinated funding process this year, the county agreed to provide about $1 million in funding for various human services agencies.

Despite facing a large budget deficit, Commissioner Leah Gunn, D-Ann Arbor, said she hopes to see the county maintain current human services funding levels through 2013.

"We have been dealt a really bad hand and everything is coming down to this level from both the state of Michigan and the federal government," she said. "We know what cuts we are going to get, but we don't know what the so-called 'super committee' of 12 is going to do. I think it's going to be even more devastating, so anything that we can do to help."

Commissioner Barbara Levin Bergman, D-Ann Arbor, said everyone in the county has a responsibility to look out for the well-being of others.

"We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers," she said.

Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, agreed and noted that many more families beyond the 72 being cut off cash assistance on Oct. 1 will need help.

"We're only as rich as the poorest of the poor, and that's something that I think the nation needs to live by," Rabhi said.

State Rep. David Rutledge, D-Superior Township, made an appearance at Thursday's meeting and offered encouragement to commissioners.

"A society is judged by how it treats the least of its citizens, and I'm just so thankful that Washtenaw County is demonstrating a concern," he said.

While the new cash assistance limits are expected to save the state $65 million in the new budget year, Callan said that's not taking into account the increased human cost involving homelessness, hunger, incarceration and increased instability for young children.


Yousef Rabhi

"We'll call it a wave — it feels like a hurricane — of human need in the community," she said. "We're already dealing with tremendous human need."

Callan noted that unemployment both locally and statewide are up over the past six months. And with jobs in short supply, many positions once filled by individuals with few skills or little education now are taken by individuals with college degrees, she said.

More than 50 percent of Michigan’s unemployed adults between 25 and 54 spent six months or more looking for jobs last year, the longest period on record, Callan noted.

"We're looking at approximately 800 residents exhausting their unemployment benefits every month in Washtenaw County," she said. "So it's an enormous need."

Callan said the county also is seeing increased poverty.

The number of families with children under age 5 living in poverty has increased 4.2 percent here since 2007, she said. Also, nearly 40 percent of single female-headed households with young children live in poverty here, she said.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.


Milton Shift

Sun, Sep 11, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

4 year limit on welfare for the poor, and no limit on business tax cuts for the rich. Great.


Mon, Sep 12, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

Milton, U do understand that in the grand scheme of things, that there is not a single business in the US that actually "pays" taxes right? Sure they may send money to the .gov, but that money comes 100% from the consumer. Any increase in business taxes is past on to the consumer in the form of a higher price. Keep raising taxes and prices keep going up add in the fact that inflation is pretty much out of control and that sure does not seem like a receipe for success. Not to mention that the top 5% of the earners in the US pay more that 50% of the taxes, the top 20% pay over 80% and the BOTTOM 47% of citizen pay exactly ZERO perscent of the tax burden. Why not motivate those who "can" get off welfare to do it, instead of being content with living their lives with their hands permanently fixed in the out position.


Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 3:51 p.m.

There are very important sociological factors the media is not reporting. The vast majority of people losing their welfare benefits have been on welfare for many years. They are not chronically physically or mentally disabled people; they are socially disabled people. Even when jobs were available, they were still receiving welfare because they are not employable. They have been taught from childhood that its easier to be given $500 a month than to waste their time taking orders from people at a job that will pay out at or near the same. There is no incentive to work when you can get the same hanging out with friends and neglecting your kids. When this group is forced to work, they simply don't have the social skills to deal with employers or customers and they fail terribly. This reinforces the attitude that its easier to stay home and be given the money. And folks that have lived that way for so long and to have had parents that lived that way - what hope is there for them? Will the state pay for social skills building? Jobs programs do not do enough to prepare them with the real skills they need. I'm afraid there is no hope for this generation; but if we can get to the young people in schools; maybe there is hope to break the cycle.


Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

Another plank in the Snyder platform is nailed. Supporters of these proposals generally overlook the fact that many of the beneficiaries are severely limited in their actual ability to secure and hold employment. Of course everyone should work and provide for themselves and families when possible. We all know that state money is tight right now, but I would bet heavily that if we substituted corporations for poor people Snyder wouldn't impose an absolute drop dead deadline. He would direct his legislative yes men to ease any burdens on corporations by slowly withdrawing state support over time, so there could be some time for adjustment.


Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 3:47 p.m.

what supporters of welfare often refuse to acknowledge is that a great many ( i would dare say majority) of those who get these benefits have limited THEMSELVES in their marketability in the job market. Welfare etel is the great DEMOTIVATOR in our country. Give an abled body person a dollar for doing nothing and they will want to continue to do nothing for a dollar. I write this as a person who has been homeless in my life (from age 4-7) and during that time received welfare so I have both sympathy AND empathy. The absolute best thing that can happen to someone (who is able bodied) on welfare is to have it stripped from them.


Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 4:19 a.m.

I can't recall ever thinking that life would be nicer as a poor person. I know some people scam the system and that does make me mad, but I hope I never lose compassion for the poor, especially poor children, the elderly and disabled. We need donations at the local level. Please donate.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

As the parent of a young adult who recently lost his job, let me say that his experience in attempting to obtain one has led to denials from fast food vendors (McDonalds and the like), major retailers (Wal-Mart and the like), as well as small "mom and pop" types of employers. Years ago he sustained an injury that has left him with some residual deficits, graduated then from college, but the residual deficits impact and limit various types of employment. He has never received unemployment benifits so is not one impacted by the current change, nor has he as some have indicted been "lazy". He continues to struggle as a single parent with young children whom he now cares for primarily full time. He would much rather be in the community working but it is still unable to find employment (he would, and is fortunate to be able to, work for an amount somewhat less than childcare expense). He has utilized the local library resources to apply for a number of positions/jobs to with no luck. While I realize that there are abuses in the system, I feel it is quite disingenuous to label all who receive benifits as seeking a free ride, abusing the system, etc. I personally belive that there are many who deserve and need this assistance. In turn for receiving this assistance they could perform necessary services/jobs, within the scope of their abilities, that would benifit our communities, without reducing jobs currently present. This type of program might also lead to competitive employment for them in the future. I am sure that there are many, much more intelligent than I, who could develope a program such as this, rather than throw stones back and forth extolling or lamenting this change.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

Good comment Zip, I looked at craistslist and found 3 pages of jobs per day. For the unemployed maybe you should look here. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

zip the cat

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 6:08 p.m.

There are lotsa jobs IF and thats the catch word,IF you really want to work and get off your lazy backside and do something to support yourself and your kids. This notion that you can knock out a half dozen kids and the state or feds are going to support them is over. Meijers,wallmart k-mart on and on are always looking for workers,IF you want to work Go on craigslist under the employment section,my god there is tons of jobs. If you got a housefull of kids,Hey thats you problem,if you and them want to eat you figure out how your going to work . Thank you Mr Snyder


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

The problem, dotdash, is that many women purposely have children for the benefits. And the public supports them. How do you propose to resolve this problem?


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

I urge you to put a bit more thought and research into your social musings. &quot;That's your problem&quot; is probably not a terribly productive way to approach societal problems. For a single mom with kid(s) under 5, the math just doesn't work. She can make, what, $8-$10 a hour, and has to pay $300/month per child for childcare. The idea that one person can both raise small children and make a living is probably the biggest misconception teenagers (and others) hold today.

Top Cat

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

I would ask Ryan Stanton to do a follow up story in a few months and detail to what extent, if any, this &quot;hurricane&quot; of human need actually occured.

Tom Joad

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

The welfare state has proven itself to be a failure on so many levels, the most basic one is that it encourages families and individuals to have children they cannot afford to increase benefit levels. This has created massive dependency that doesn't benefit society nor the people receiving a monthly check. Tens of millions of jobs have been lost through greater efficiency, technology, offshoring, and stricter lending practices. These people will not easily become employed again and should have priority in receiving public benefits. We can't become like England in granting cradle to grave benefits. It may appear cold hearted to cut people off but a limit encourages/forces them to find work or structure their lives so that they are not the responsibility of the state.

Life in Ypsi

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

Be sure to do some research before deciding what organization you donate to. Some things to look at are the overhead costs, how much more money is spent on administrative staff versus the ones on the front lines and how much is going to direct needs. It's a shame some of these &quot;helping&quot; organizations pay poverty wages to their employees on the front lines. Wages so low that the employees are on Medicaid and Food Stamps.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

Oh the poor children, that line is getting very old! I've have yet to see a starving child, maybe the news can do a story on the starving children.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 11:27 p.m.

With the obesity rate on children? I would love to see a starving child in this country. All I see are fat children who sit and do nothing but watch television all day. We are struggling but not starving.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.

I suspect that some of these people might end up stealing in order to survive and since they probably really don't have the life skills to be gainfully employed, they'll likely fail at stealing eventually. That means that we'll have to arrest them, send them to court for their fair trial and then house and feed them in a prison. All at a much greater expense than giving them the darn cash money in the first place. That is the adults but they'll be modeling that behavior to their children so this so called &quot;cost saving&quot; measure is probably going to end up costing the tax payers much more in the long run. Way to go Snyder! You've kicked a bunch of poor children who can't do anything to improve their circumstances and probably cost us taxpayers a lot of money in the process.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

48 months is Great, 24 months would have been better.

Roy Munson

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

&quot;We're only as rich as the poorest of the poor, and that's something that I think the nation needs to live by,&quot; Rabhi said. What nation is this? Rabhi, please let me know so that I can avoid living there.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

A lot people are, practically speaking, unemployable. They don't have the life skills, the education, the job skills or the child care to hold down a job. And I say this as a small business owner who has thought about this issue. What is the solution for people like that, especially when they have kids? And yes, I am asking a real question of zip the cat, thinker, nixon41, djack24, and xmo. What should be done, seriously?


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

Willow Run schools are technically day care. Send em there. They don't educate children just pray for AYP. Trust me, sending them to school is like sending them to daycare. They will find a way and a means.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

Government is the last safety net. Family members, churches, etc. can provide direct help less bureaucratic red tape to the poor than government. We are no longer a rich nation and 4 years is plenty unless we are talking the disabled and retarded.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

I'm curious about your answer. Poor people tend not to have family members wealthy enough to help, and churches don't generally give our cash to pay your rent. What do you think the solution is for a woman with 3 kids under 8 who wouldn't command more than minimum wage? (avoiding, if you can, the perennial favorite: &quot;go back in time and make better choices&quot;)


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

It must be bad for people in America who cannot enjoy their freedom and independence but have to live off hand outs from State and Federal Governments! We need to empower these people with work so that they too can enjoy the fruits that others Americans enjoy! No more speeches, Deliver JOBS to these people!


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1:55 p.m.

I hope that our county jail and state prison are freeing up additional beds because that's exactly what we are going to see. You can't take people whose last resort is assistance and then suddenly kick them off any type of assistance and expect a normal law abiding response from them. That's unreasonable.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 4:10 p.m.

Atticus I already have K&amp;R ins from S&amp;W.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

cinnibar, that is exactly what will happen. Hopefully you and I will be lucky enough to afford k&amp;r insurance (kidnap &amp; ransom). In countries without social safety nets, the crime rate usually quickly outgrows what the police force can handle, to the point where people with money purchase private security to protect their families. Kidnapping and murder are common place in countries like Mexico and Guatamala.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

I thought trying to scare people was a ploy of the conservitives? We all know better then that, most will just find jobs and not get pulled into a life of crime. And even if some did become so desperate that they did commit crimes they would surely be property crimes and not voilent crimes.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

What an awful situation. 72 familes with even less. That means more stress, more hungry kids who can't learn, more disruption in their lives, more violence, more chaos. More ignorance, more want. Think of these collectors as tax collectors, and you'll see Dickens pretty much captured the libertarian view of safety nets: First Collector: A few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. Ebenezer: Why? First Collector: Because it is at Christmastime that want is most keenly felt, and abundance rejoices. Now what can I put you down for? Ebenezer: Huh! Nothing! Second Collector: You wish to be anonymous? Ebenezer: [firmly, but calmly] I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish sir, that is my answer. I help to support the establishments I have named; those who are badly off must go there. First Collector: Many can't go there. Second Collector: And some would rather die. ``If they would rather die,'' said Scrooge, ``they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.&quot;

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 2 a.m.

@dotdash, That exchange from &quot;A Christmas Carol&quot; is timeless, as the replies it elicited make clear. Dickens would have no problem recognizing the modern conservative. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

Google &quot;food insecurity&quot;. My numbers may actually be low. The USDA publishes these numbers yearly. Here's some of them: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> 17.2 million households were food insecure in 2010.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 8 p.m.

dotdash - And your source is? What is the methodology to the study? What is defined as inconsistent access to food?


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

20 million children in this country live in households with inconsistent access to adequate food. That is, they are hungry from time to time. Real.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 3:11 p.m. come this person isn't getting the boot? These 72 families can get jobs and find adequate schooling and free food and lunch programs. No one is going hungry. Get real.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

Looks like the republicans are getting their way... Soon we will have people dying in the street of starvation, and people begging in the streets for food with children by their side. It will be just like India or Guatamala. Except we have the prison complex to lock away anybody who the ultra wealthy or the police would have to step over.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

The above comment was posted by me. I had loaned my laptop to a friend, and apperantly he was signed in to A2dotcom on my computer.

james brinker

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

Djack, I pay income tax, sales tax, and property tax...I also donate both my money, labor and time to charity. Also, the old &quot;get a job&quot; cop out does not work when we have an unemployment rate of 9+%. And BTW, places like India and Guatemala don't have any safety nets for their society, that's why they have people dying in the streets of starvation...which is apparently what the republicans want for this state.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

Right Atticus the adults have taken control of a out of control problem. And your attempt to scare people with &quot;Soon we will have people dying in the street of starvation, and people begging in the streets for food with children by their side.&quot; Will not work, cause unless your not paying attention, that is already happening, (well not the dying in the srteets which will never happen,) Tent cities, people/ Familys begging on exit ramps. Its time to clean up the mess and demand EVERYONE pitch in.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

Sounds pretty dramatic Atticus, maybe a number of those people will go out and actively search for a low paying job for starters. Many would qualify for free schooling and training, somethingmy family has to pay for. I personally know a number of them who turned down work so they wouldn't have to give up their &quot;free money&quot; - their words not mine. Maybe some of them made bad decisions when they were younger and partied and took drugs instead of going to school. This isn't a Republican problem


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

You want to help, donate to charities...


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

About time. Too many are abusing the system.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

The key is jobs-jobs-jobs to get people off welfare. If jobs are available, all able-bodied citizens must work and provide for themselves and their own. Problem is: Jobs are even more scarce for those who qualify for welfare, and the &quot;trickle down&quot; of deprivation is to those who can least withstand lack of shelter and sustenance. It is our duty to take care of those who cannot provide for themselves. And for those who would cut off the poor, someday in one way or another, they may suffer the same fate. &quot;Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!&quot;

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

Here Here!


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1 p.m.



Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

Cash assistance is one of MANY programs that exist from the Federal and State Government. One of the larger problems that Washington needs to tackle is that there are 218+ programs for low income people. They are spread across every major cabinet department (why does the Department of Defense have low income programs in its budget?). We need to pull them all into one agency, and clean up the registration and coordination process. It should be that when someone needs help, they go to one place, fill out one form and deal with one person. It is not, the process can be a full time job for someone in need today. It is a mess and we waste billions of dollars in overhead, that would be better spent with the people who need it. The reality at the county and state level is not much better. Some of that is Federal requirements, but some of that is the decision of people at the state and local level. If we wanted to save money, cleaning up the overhead in many programs would be very useful and would focus more of what is available on the people who need it.


Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

Murrow's right. As a kid in a military family, we were dirt poor. We moved so much it was hard for mom to get a job (and what to do with young kids while you're working?), and at least in the late 60s newly enlisted Marines didn't earn very much. Certainly not enough to easily support a family. And how do you apply for local assistance when you're permanent address is in another state and you're only based in one place for a few months before going somewhere else? My dad was based in California for only six months at one point before being moved back to North Carolina.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

The DOD has low income programs in its budget because, as one time, many of its employees (otherwise known as soldiers, sailors, and airmen) needed assistance. I'm not certain this is the case anymore, as service pay has gone up substantially over the past ten years as an inducement to keep people in the service. No links to support this--just my experience as a field artillery battery commander in the mid-1980s who had nearly 20% of his command on food stamps or some other form of assistance. Good Night and Good Luck

zip the cat

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

So the free ride is comming to a end. Well its about time.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 6:05 p.m.

@jns131 So lets set this straight, out of the nearly massive amount of 10.9% of unemployed in Michigan (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;don't want to work because they are use to a free ride&quot;? Have any idea how much 10.9% is of our states total population? The families who are loosing their homes, thousands of young professionals who flee this state after graduation don't wish to become productive members of society? Or how about looking at it at a micro-societal prospective, your saying that most unemployed people in Washtenaw county using some form of assistance are lazy and don't care about the welfare of their families and their communities? Do you realize just WHAT kind of statement your making? Are there jobs &quot;out there&quot;, please enlighten us with your job finding skills, and I'm not just referring to 8-12/hr part time on call and no benefit cashier jobs in, I want you to produce proof of thousands of available positions that pay a living wage so families can stay in their homes, and children can stop being counted as a &quot;poverty statistic&quot;. What we have available in the local job market are most notably 8-13/hr positions that do nothing that perpetuate the cycle of poverty and force families to apply for assistance, many for the first time. I doubt you would walk into a unemployment office, or a social services office, and spout such drivel.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

There are jobs out there. Most don't want to work because they are use to a free ride and hand out from the government. Time to do what they did in the depression era, band together, work together and get a job where ever possible. AAPS needs bus drivers. Hint.


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

If you are concerned and able, please donate food, money, services, or time to <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> or <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> or any other worthy charity that you know. They need our help, now. We can make a great difference!


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

Yes, charities (reputable ones) and churches need our donations. People need to be encouraged to work. Not be part of the welfare society. Yes, some are truly disabled, etc, and those could be aided by charitable donations. What happened to tithing?


Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 11:53 a.m.

If there is anything good that comes of this, it will be putting faces on what is normally a faceless problem for most of us. The problems of the needy are usually best handled at the most local level. I believe our community will indeed step up to the plate and help fill the need, and I will personally look for ways to help. I know our church collects for the local food bank and that is just a small thing. Hopefully the Ann Arbor news sources will keep us informed of opportunities to assist.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 : 11:06 a.m.

One of the Washtenaw County commissioners told me Monday at the Ann Arbor City Democratic Party annual labor day picnic that the county's deficit for the 2012 fiscal year will be $17 million in the $100 million annual general fund. How they decide to balance the budget will impact many lives. If they raise taxes many more homeowners living on the edge on fixed incomes will lose their homes. If they cut services, many county employees will lose their jobs with devastating results and a cut in services will have many impacts Including potentially on critical assistance programs as noted in the article above. To me it seems like a no win situation. I wish the county commissioners the wisdom of Solomon as they approach this difficult task.


Sat, Sep 10, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

The county could use a business mind like yours on the board. You should consider running in 2012. Maybe your're a Solomon that could balance the various interests. As a businessman you know that its not all about profits and cutting costs.