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By Renee Summers
Telegram Reporter 

U. S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Holds 13th Congressional Coronavirus Virtual Town Hall


On Tuesday, May 5, US House Representative, Rashida Tlaib (13th district) hosted another virtual town hall to inform residents of resources available to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents were able to access the virtual town hall either by phone or internet and were given the opportunity to ask questions.

The hour-long town hall featured representatives from The United Way for Southeast Michigan, Gleaner's Community Food Bank, Focus: HOPE, and Wayne Metro Community Action Agency.

In her opening remarks, Tlaib stated that in April alone, about one-third of residents in the 13th district were unable to pay rent and 25 percent of homeowners in the district had applied for some sort of adjustment in their mortgage payment schedule with their lender. She added that roughly 30 million Americans had applied for unemployment benefits. "We know that resources are very much needed and very scarce, but we all know we have some really strong, strong community-based organizations," Tlaib said. "When we stay informed and engaged, we can help save lives and protect our neighbors."

President and CEO of The United Way, Dr. Darienne Hudson said, "We know that this is a health emergency of a very different kind, and it's having an impact on households in Detroit, in Wayne County and across the region." Hudson then listed ways her organization is addressing challenges brought about by the pandemic and the resulting state shut down. The United Way, in cooperation with thousands of community agencies, is working to address food insecurity, problems arising from wage loss, childcare issues, and utility assistance. More information can be found by calling 2-1-1 or by going to If you experience problems dialing 2-1-1, call 1-800-552-1183.

Rachelle Bonelli, Vice President of Programs at Gleaner's Community Food Bank, said the organization began preparing a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early March. The organization operates 66 mobile food pantries, offers shelf-stable food deliveries to the homebound, and children's nutrition programs. Bonelli added that in April, Gleaner's served 77,000 new households, up 30 percent from this same time last year. For more information see Gleaner's website at or by calling 1-866-453-2637.

Focus: HOPE's Director of Advocacy, Equity and Empowerment, Jasahn Larosa said his organization continues to assist those hardest hit by misfortune, as it has done since its founding in 1967. Focus: HOPE serves families with young children, working families, individuals in need of job training, and seniors. Larosa said Focus: HOPE serves more than 41,000 senior citizens in four counties each month through its Food Justice Program for Seniors. More information on programs and services can be found at or by calling 313-494-5500.

Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency CEO Louis Piszker introduced the recently launched initiative, Wayne Metro Cares, which provides assistance to Wayne County residents in response to the pandemic crisis. Areas of assistance include food and income support, rent and mortgage assistance, utility assistance, property tax assistance, emergency plumbing repairs and funeral assistance.

"We don't want you choosing between paying your rent and feeding your family," said Piszker, adding that the initiative is being allocated at an adjusted eligibility criterion, 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For more information call 313-388-9799 or go to


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