The Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) recently released updated Barrier Busters COVID-19 response summary reports. These summary reports detail Barrier Busters activities between July 1 and September 30. During that time, 314 households received almost $250,000 in emergency assistance funds. This represents a more than 250% increase in requests than during the same period in 2019.
These reports also showcase how the economic impact of the pandemic has evolved. This quarter saw a sharp increase in the number of requests from Black households and individuals over 55 compared to the previous quarter. The average level of assistance requested also increased from under $600 in the Spring to almost $800 during the Summer months.
Most requests were for rental assistance during the initial months of COVID-19 response. This quarter, requests were more evenly split between rental and utility assistance. The launch of the Eviction Diversion and Prevention Program, a partnership between OCED, Housing Access for Washtenaw County, and Legal Services of South Central Michigan, which handles many rental assistance requests may be a cause of this shift.
Washtenaw County OCED is a government agency committed to stepping out of traditional government roles to drive long-term system changes that increase equity and opportunity for all residents. OCED coordinates the Barrier Busters network and handles reviewing and approving requests. Barrier Busters is a network of more than 100 service providers in Washtenaw County. Partners can place requests to the Barrier Busters Unmet Needs Funds on behalf of their clients. To find an agency that can make requests visit this webpage.
Individuals interested in supporting Barrier Busters can donate to the Emergency Unmet Needs Fund. Their donation will help an individual or family in our community. To do so, follow this link and select “Washtenaw” from the drop-down menu of counties.