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Wayne Co. launches one-time, cash card program for quick help to workers hurt by COVID orders

Ahmad Ardity

Wayne County rolled out a new program Thursday, called "Wayne County Cares," to help county residents who have been affected by the state's recent COVID-19 public health orders that shut down or reduced services at many businesses.

The county is offering a one-time, no strings attached $500 cash card to eligible applicants who must have worked in food service, group fitness, hospitality, or entertainment businesses since March 2020 and meet certain income limits.

"The public health orders were a difficult but necessary step to keep our communities healthy," said Wayne County Executive Warren Evans in a written statement. "However, we know many Wayne County families are hurting. It's critical we help ease the financial burden for those affected. This effort empowers displaced workers with direct support to spend however they need."

Evans said cash cards can get much needed assistance to workers without logistical barriers or unnecessary overhead. He said the county will not ask applicants for social security numbers or anything related to immigrations status.

"This is about helping Wayne County residents who need help the most," said Evans. "And that's it. We support and value our immigrant community and want them to succeed as much as everyone else."

"We want to help provide some level of relief during the holidays for people who can't work right now because of the health pandemic that we're facing," said Kahlil Rahal, Assistant Wayne County Executive.

The application deadline is next Tuesday, December 15th.

Information about how to apply can be found here.

The county said it has budgeted $4 million for the program to distribute up to 8,000 cards for qualified workers  by the end of December.

The money for the program comes from federal CARES Act aid to Wayne County.

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Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.