Free Money Mob at Cobo Center
Corey Williams, WUPW-TV (Toledo), October 8, 2009
Scuffles erupted as several thousand Detroit residents jockeyed, pushed and shoved Wednesday to get free money being offered to only 3,500 of the city’s recently or soon to be homeless.
Several received medical treatment for fainting or exhaustion while frantically trying to obtain the applications for federal housing assistance. The long lines and short tempers highlighted the frustration and desperation that Detroit residents feel struggling through an economic nightmare.
Members of the Detroit Police Department’s Gang Squad and other tactical units were called in for crowd control. Several people reportedly passed out from exhaustion and had to be treated by emergency medical personnel. Some minor injuries were reported, and no arrests were made.
Before Wednesday, Detroit Planning and Development workers already had spent two days handling long lines at City Hall and other locations. Rumors that $3,000 stimulus checks from the Obama administration spurred heavy turnouts.
The city distributed more than 50,000 applications for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program over the past several days before running out Wednesday morning. Only 3,500 people who qualify will receive the money—a maximum $3,000 per applicant, Dumas said.
To be considered, applicants must have lived in Detroit for the past six months, been homeless within the past year and be of low to moderate income. A single applicant is ineligible with an income of more than $24,850 annually; the maximum annual income for an eligible family of four is $35,500.
Individuals and families meeting the income criteria and facing eviction and foreclosure also are eligible. Being able to maintain housing after getting the assistance also is a condition of the program.
The program also provides money to keep utilities turned on.
The deadline to submit applications—originally Wednesday—has been extended a week because of the “enormous number” distributed, she added.
[Editor’s Note: AR carried an earlier story on this hand-out program here.]