project leader
Julia S
Joseph Campau
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Project complete!

the project

Thank you to all our supporters who have made this initial phase of our project successful. We've launched this Phase 2 campaign so that we can being using the funds we raised for translation services so that information can be shared amongst our diverse neighborhood (at least 5 different languages spoken!) and begin our utility assistance fund. TO DONATE TO THIS PROJECT, PLEASE GO TO PHASE 2 HERE:

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. 



Disbursed budget 10.29.21:

$370 translate flyer to Bangla, Arabic, Polish, Bosnian and Albanian

$20 to print materials

Remaining $704 will be used towards our fund for utility assistance. We will begin a phase 2 campaign to raise the remaining ~$800 to reach our utility assistance original fund goal. 


TOTAL RAISED = $1,115.00
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) N/A
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $21.00

$2000-disbursed funds 

Original Budget:

$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.


Project complete!

Thanks to your support, the Hamtramck Mutual Aid Utility Aid project made forty-one payments of $40 directly towards utility bills of neighbors in need this year. Most of those were one-time payments; six of those homes received aid twice; all were offered a referral to Wayne Metro to apply for more funding. These accounts belong to real people, spanning the ethnic diversity of the Hamtramck area, from individuals to multi-generational families, younger adults to seniors. Thank you again to all who donated and shared our fundraiser for making this possible!

Resources for those who still need help with utility bill

- Apply for State Emergency Relief (SER) online: 

- Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency - -  can help SER-approved households apply for Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) 

- The Heat and Warmth Fund - - connections to utility assistance programs. Can help SER-approved households apply for Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP)

- United Way for Southeastern Michigan - - can help SER-approved households apply for Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) 

- Other programs listed at DTE Energy's website for bill assistance -


Making payments and connections

So far, our volunteer outreach team has made $40 payments each towards ten neighbors' accounts, and are working our way through new applicants. Some of these folks have already applied for State Emergency Relief (SER) funds, others are new to the concept and being connected to our partners at Wayne Metro to apply for longer-term resources. Many are at-risk of shut-off. One applicant said they were so surprised when we called back, because they are used to getting the run-around when applying for resources. It is disheartening how many obstacles low-income people have to go through, and how great the need is.... but I am grateful we can help our community in a small way with some cash and connection. I am also very grateful to all the individual donors and to the ioby Detroit Match (thank you Ford Foundation and Kresge Foundation) who made these utility aid payments possible. - Julia

Applications open for utility assistance!

THANK YOU to all our donors, we were able to translate the application and flyers into Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bosnian, and Polish (flyers at . We have made a $40 payment to the first applicant's DTE account and are still advertising to our local networks. We will be working with local partners such as Wayne Metro to connect applicants to further utility resources if they wish. Stay tuned for more updates. In gratitude, Julia & the Hamtramck Mutual Aid team. 


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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