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Community Groups Brace For Backlash From Welfare Bills

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LANSING (WWJ) – Local community groups are bracing for what could be a surge in demand for their services this fall. The State Senate has passed a bill capping lifetime welfare benefits at four years. If the bill passes the House, more than 12,000 Michigan families could be booted from state welfare rolls in October.

The United Way’s Donna Ponepinto said they are working with charitable groups to make it easier for people to seek out assistance.

“So that individuals aren’t having to go from one place to another, so creating more one-stop types of centers, where someone can go in and they can have their needs met, the crisis needs met as well as other needs,” Ponepinto said.

She also said they are working to streamline the help offered by Metro Detroit’s numerous charitable groups.

“They’re more strategic in how they provide services. There’s a lot of agencies out there that provide the same services and in many ways duplication, there’s not enough to go around,” Ponepinto said.

According to Ponepinto, 95 percent of people who call the 211 help line live in or near the poverty level.

The State House, which had its own version of the bill, will have to agree to the Senate’s changes. Ponepinto also notes that many people who qualify for assistance aren’t receiving it.

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