A hand up

November 11, 2013 in Featured Question of the Week, Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers, Suicide Season by Sally Jones Heinz

Though the possible causes of depression are many and complex, there is no doubt that loss of a job can increase the risk. There is no template for preventing despair, but one story of a recent MIFA client shows that in at least some situations, there is hope and help for those who might be close to giving up.

“I’ve done everything right,” said the woman who visited MIFA’s Emergency Services Department. And she had. A divorced mother of 3, she had a good job and owned her own home. She had maintained a substantial savings account. She was anything but the person many might imagine would line up for assistance on a Monday morning.

But despite having done everything right, this mother found time running out after her professional-level job was eliminated 10 months ago. After cutting back on expenses and using her unemployment wisely and her savings only when necessary, she still found herself in danger of a utility shutoff and a foreclosure by November. Necessary repairs on an aging vehicle became the last straw. When she spoke with the Emergency Services counselor, she broke down in tears. Even doing everything right was not enough.

Since her layoff was more than 90 days earlier, it almost looked as if she would not qualify for assistance from MIFA. But when her application was reviewed a second time, the recent car repairs showed up and made her eligible. MIFA was able to contribute to her MLGW bill through the Plus-1 program and to help her set up a payment plan, and she was referred to another community agency that will be able to pay her mortgage for one month. She has had some promising job interviews, and it is likely that with this month of grace, she will soon have income again.

Last year, of 15,238 total requests for rent, mortgage, and utility assistance, MIFA was able to help 4,904 households. While rejoicing for and with those we can help, we continue to seek funds to help more.