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Kent County DHHS funding to help clients and families remove barriers to self-sufficiency

MDHHSMDHHS-Kent-Community-Resources shares the following:

Kent County DHHS has some funding available for clients and families to help them remove barriers to self-sufficiency. The funding source is called Direct Support Services (DSS) and can be requested by completing the attached form and submitting it to Kristen Simon via email (simonk6@michigan.gov) or fax 616-248-1047.

DSS funding may cover the following needs:

  • Child care for participation in the PATH program
  • Medical exams for pre-employment or training
  • Dental services to overcome barriers to employment or training
  • Relocation assistance if new job is beyond commuting distance (2 hours/day)
  • Transportation costs – bus tickets, allowance, mileage reimbursement) for PATH or employment
  • Vehicle repair for employment
  • Vehicle purchase for employment
  • Other one-time work-related expenses (license fees, trade certification, purchase of professional tools, license plates, vehicle insurance, etc.)

*Note:  There is no entitlement for DSS.  The decision to authorize DSS is within the discretion of the MDHHS or PATH program, based on local office funding.  All eligibility requirements outlined in Bridges Eligibility Manual (BEM) 232 must be met in order for DSS to be authorized.

City’s Urban Agriculture Committee seeks community input

urban-ag-webPublished on June 27, 2019
by the City of Grand Rapids

The City of Grand Rapids’ Urban Agriculture Committee is inviting the community to provide input on current and desired urban agriculture opportunities. The committee is hosting a community open house before its bimonthly meeting Wednesday, July 10 at Garfield Park Neighborhood Association, 334 Burton St. SE. Residents are invited to submit comments or ask questions related to urban agriculture activities and priorities from 5 to 6 p.m.

Urban agriculture covers a wide span of activities but can be simplified as producing food to eat or sell in the city by growing plants and/or raising animals.

The committee meeting, which is open to the public, will begin at 6 p.m. City Manager Mark Washington will open the meeting with a brief overview of the City’s strategic priorities and how they can support urban agriculture goals.

“We’re glad to see how much the City’s strategic plan focuses on equity,” said Joan Huyser-Honig, chair of the Urban Agriculture Committee. “Our committee’s recommendations include ways to expand green spaces and improve health equity. Other cities are leading the way by reducing policy barriers so more people can grow, raise and harvest healthy food.”

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss formed the Urban Agriculture Committee in 2017 to provide guidance to the City on policies and zoning around the growing trend of urban agriculture. As the committee reviews current city ordinances related to urban agriculture, it is looking at national best practices in urban agriculture rules and ordinances. The committee plans to provide recommendations to the City’s Planning Commission after the July 10 meeting.

The Urban Agriculture Committee has held several previous community engagement sessions and distributed a survey to stakeholders – all of which are providing guidance in its recommendations. The community sessions and survey results indicated more education was needed on urban agriculture and how it might impact future planning for the city. To provide feedback online, CLICK HERE.

For more information about the Urban Agriculture Committee, CLICK HERE.

Sign the letter today! Protect Michigan Farmworker Minimum Wage

Sign it here! Deadline May 15.NINO

The right to a minimum wage is one of the most basic and fundamental protections a worker can count on in the workplace. Agricultural workers are among the most vulnerable and often-exploited workers, doing one of the most dangerous, and essential jobs, in today’s economy. Michigan’s Wage and Hour laws are meant to offer stateside protection to workers where the federal government will not. Until very recently, this included agricultural workers on Michigan’s small farms. However, on December 19, 2017, then-Attorney General Bill Schuette changed that.

AG Opinion #7301, reinterprets a part of Michigan’s minimum wage laws (known as the Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (WOWA)) as excluding workers on Michigan’s small farms from minimum wage protections. In his opinion, the former Attorney General concluded, “This construction of subsection 10(1)(b) has the effect of leaving some employees without a right to a minimum hourly wage under the WOWA (or the FLSA).” The interpretation reversed a decade-long understanding, one confirmed by the legislative history surrounding the section’s passage, that this subsection offered minimum wage protection to all workers, including those on small farms.

While the former Attorney General did not change his position, there’s a new AG in charge. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, at the direction of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, has asked Attorney General Dana Nessel to reconsider AG #7301.

UPDATE: Attorney General Dana Nessel has accepted this request and asks for public comments through mid-May as she prepares to make a decision. Support this request by signing your organization, your business, your church or faith community, or just yourself to this letter. The signature period closes on Wednesday, May 15.

Local collaborative releases Environmental Justice Report

report cverOver the past few years, Our Kitchen Table has joined with other Grand Rapids area agencies and nonprofits to form the Grand Rapids Environmental Justice Collaborative with the goal of developing a comprehensive report on local EJ issues. Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice‘s Guy Williams provided great direction. You can read the full report here.

The Environmental Justice Collaborative’s report will give the city of Grand Rapids’ officials and leaders a baseline. It will paint a picture of where the city is today as far as environmental inequities impacting its most vulnerable residents, most often people of color. And, it will present a vision for a future — hopefully a near future — that creates a healthier, safer, life-affirming environment for everyone living in  the greater Grand Rapids area.