New program paying up to $500 in utility bills for metro Detroit essential workers

Posted at 11:30 AM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-02 14:04:56-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — As quarantining at home continues, utility bills are bound to be higher. Saunteel Jenkins, CEO of THAW, says there is no shame in asking for assistance.

Jenkins said she had a conversation with administrators from Henry Ford Hospital about the challenges some workers are facing with paying their bills. That led the non-profit to extend its services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"One of the things this crisis has shown is that we're all vulnerable," Jenkins said.

She tells 7 Action News THAW has been helping low-income residents and seniors with their utility bills for 35 years. Starting Wednesday, Jenkins says essential workers facing hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for a new Utility Relief Program as well.

"You are literally putting your lives at risk for us," she said.

Jenkins is talking about workers like bus drivers, hospital security and custodial staff, and grocery store clerks to name a few.

She says THAW will grant up to $500 per household whose income is up to 250% of the federal poverty level.

"We're brainstorming how to help our community heroes, and that's it. They're putting all their energy on the line. We want to return that favor with helping them with their energy cost," Jenkins said.

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