project leader
Julia S
Joseph Campau
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the project

Every winter, too many of our neighbors in Hamtramck & bordering Detroit struggle to afford heating & electricity. The COVID-19 crisis has worsened the problem, through loss of income - due to unemployment, reduced employment, or health problems - as well as increased usage of heat, electricity and water as many families shifted to working, studying, and/or sheltering in place from home. Furthermore, utility rates have been rising, while CNN reports the cost of natural gas used to heat homes and provide electricity is projected to increase this winter ( Our group, Hamtramck Mutual Aid, would like to raise funds to help our community pay for these utilities that keep us warm and safe, and allow us to cook, learn, work, and stay connected.

While utility assistance programs exist, they are not without obstacles.  The application process can be confusing, paperwork-intensive, and often requires a computer or internet access. Most information available is in English, and many Hamtramck and surrounding-area residents need translations. Additionally, sometimes people who need assistance may not qualify for enough, or any aid through traditional channels if they are deemed to have too many assets of too high of an income - even if that status does not translate to having cash on-hand.

As a smaller mutual aid group, we will use a simple application process with fewer requirements for our fund, that we will translate into five commonly-spoken languages. We will also work to make sure our neighbors can easily access the application. Funds raised for utility assistance will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis to households that are behind on payments and/or have been given a shut-off notice. The amount awarded to each household will be modest, but even a small payment towards an outstanding utility bill can help prevent a shut-off.  We will not let the obvious limits of our own grassroots approach stop us from trying to help each other. The need for utility assistance likely far exceeds the fundraising goal of our campaign. Because of this, we will follow up with all who apply to share information about existing payment plans and utility resources, building local connections in the process. This fundraiser will be one step in the long-term movement towards a resilient community.





the steps

October - Translate our online application & outreach flyer in Bangla, Arabic, Polish, Bosnian & Albanian

Early November - Advertise our fund assistance on multiple local platforms - social media groups, the Hamtramck Review newspaper, Hamtramck United Social Services network, the City’s Resident Ambassador email newsletter, printed flyers, & other local organizations. Neighbors can apply online or by phone. 

Late November - December - pay funds to the awardees’ utility accounts* and connect all applicants with other utility assistance programs (see as example) & energy efficiency resources. 

*We will tentatively use screenshots with personal information blacked out as “receipts.” If any issues arise with this method, we will keep all stakeholders apprised of changes and work with our fiscal sponsor (Hamtramck Community Initiative) to be as transparent as possible, while protecting the privacy of those who receive utility assistance.


why we're doing it

Michigan has been experiencing some of the coldest winters on record in recent years, and keeping the heat on can be a matter of life and death at these temperatures, especially for children and elders. Missing a few utility bills shouldn’t lead to frostbite or hypothermia. A small payment to keep the heat on can make a big difference.


By chipping in for utility bills, we can also remind our neighbors that they are not alone as we face the human-made crises of class inequality and a global pandemic. Together we can build the support networks that we will need not just for this winter, but for years to come. 



$200 -$300  translate flyer to Bangla, Arabic, Polish, Bosnian and Albanian

$1400 -$1540  direct funds for utility assistance

    Depending on the amount of applicants and the need, this could look like

    up to $77 for 20 households OR

    up to $38.5 for 40 households

ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) N/A
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)
(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)

Donation processing fees apply to donations only. 100% of match funding goes to projects. Please note, fees are estimated here and final numbers may change based on the final amount raised and amount of match funding applied to this campaign.


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