WAYNE COUNTY — There is financial help available to veterans who may be struggling with their rent and utility payments in Wayne County.
While the county has more than 84,000 veterans, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for the Wayne County Veteran Services Division to make the community aware of the resources it offers to veterans.
“Before, we would go to churches and senior citizen residences,” said Division Director Kweisi Betsari. “The pandemic has slowed us down in that area. So, we want to make sure we tell everybody.”
Betsari also said that the division helps veterans meet financial obligations including rent, mortgage and utility assistance.
“A lot of veterans were impacted by the pandemic as well,” he said. “If you’ve got people who were laid off, we can help pay those bills. If they’re facing eviction, we can pay that rent.”
To be eligible for help, veterans must have recognized wartime services, were honorably discharged and can prove financial hardship with documentation such as utility shut-off notices, eviction notices, which must be a court-ordered judgment, and tax notices of property being taken for delinquent taxes.
The division also offers support services that provide Veterans Administration compensation and disability applications services to eligible veterans for their families to apply for assistance so they can receive additional benefits and secure employment.
The Wayne County Veteran Services Division also provides assistance with funeral expenses for those veterans and spouses with assets less than $40,000, excluding the family residence. To be eligible for this, the veteran must have received an honorable discharge from the United States Armed Forces, with at least 90 days of recognized wartime service.
Spouses of veterans are not eligible for government markers.
The county will also provide up to $1,000 toward burial benefits and $50 toward the cost of installing a government marker.
For funeral expense assistance, applications must be completed by a claimant within two years from the date of death and an itemized funeral bill, certified death certificate, proof of marriage for widows and complete information regarding assets must be provided.
All applicants must bring a military discharge or a DD-214 valid Michigan ID with picture and verification of income and expenses with them to their in-person appointments.
According to the division’s website, honorably discharged, wartime veterans and their families are assisted by Wayne County Soldiers & Sailors Relief and Michigan Veteran Trust Funds and the need for each case is evaluated and the extent of aid to be granted is determined.
The division interviews and counsels applicants and interacts with other human service, federal, state, county and city agencies. It also coordinates services with privately funded agencies.
Veterans in need of assistance can call 313-224-5045.