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Posted on: May 11, 2022

Board of Commissioners Approve Additional Support for Direct Assistance Program

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Last week, the Board of Commissioners approved two resolutions that support the expansion of important direct assistance initiatives administered by the Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED): the Barrier Busters Network and the Weatherization program. The approved resolutions provide additional staff support for each program to manage new funds and/or increased demand

The Barrier Busters is a network of over 100 social service agencies in Washtenaw County that aim to collaboratively improve service delivery in the County and respond to individuals or families facing an emergency. A major component of responding to and preventing emergencies is the Barrier Busters Emergency Unmet Needs Fund. The fund provides these Barrier Buster agencies resources to support families in our community facing evictions, utility shutoffs, and other situations that, if not for direct assistance, could result in further crisis. The number of requests for these funds has greatly increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Emergency Unmet Needs Fund providing more than $150,000 to 219 households in just the first quarter of 2022. As federal pandemic response programs begin to end, it is anticipated that the need will remain at a high level. The Board created a position that will work to cultivate the network and manage the fund to ensure Barrier Busters is a responsive and effective network for supporting Washtenaw County residents. To learn more about Barrier Busters, including how you can support it, visit this webpage

"Barrier Busters is one of the most flexible resources we have as a county to help our residents," said Jason Morgan, Commissioner for District 8. "This directly supports our equity goals and I'm hopeful that this position will help the network continue to grow and positively impact those who need it most in our community." 

The Weatherization Program is part of the Home Improvement Programs managed by the OCED team that provide a variety of free home rehabilitation, weatherization, and energy optimization services. The Weatherization program often includes services like insulation, air-sealing, furnace and water heater inspections and repair, caulking around drafty windows and doors, and repairing or replacing other inefficient appliances. Together, these improvements can help homes be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, while also driving down utility bills. This program helps lower-income households, has a positive climate impact, and supports local contractors. Because it impacts our community in so many ways, the Board voted to expand the program to reach even more Washtenaw County residents as part of the Washtenaw Rescue Plan. The approved position will support the expansion of the program as long as ARPA dollars are available. To learn more about the program, including how to apply for services, visit this webpage

"Washtenaw County residents should not have to make a decision between being comfortable in their home and saving money on their utility bills," said Justin Hodge, Commissioner for District 5. "This investment to weatherize more low-income households in Washtenaw County, will have a long term positive impact on their physical and financial health and wellbeing."

OCED is actively hiring for each of these positions. Follow the links below to learn more about each position and apply today. 

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