There is help for Germantown residents who are experiencing financial hardships.
On Monday, March 9, Germantown Residents for Economic Alternatives Together, or GREAT, opened applications for a “community generated gifting fund” to help people pay for essential needs. Jill Saull, a member of GREAT, said the organization wanted to help the neighborhood during the pandemic.
“People were going to be suffering in our community, and this was going to be a big deal,” Saull said. “How could we help people get through that and support them in some way, even if it’s just a small way.”
The Mutual Aid fund has reached more than $10,000 in donations so far. The money can be used to pay for housing costs, utility bills, emergency home repairs, transportation, phone bills, emergency medical bills, and medicine. Marie-Monique Marthol, a member of GREAT and Germantown resident of 13 years, said the organization realizes that one missed bill can cause a “snowball” effect, leading to more and more financial problems. Marthol said it can be especially difficult when people are “living paycheck to paycheck and the paycheck itself is not enough.”
There are eligibility requirements, including residency in Germantown. The minimum amount of financial assistance is $50. The fund will prioritize the most vulnerable applicants based on an assessment of needs, including income, disability status and urgency. Although GREAT lists specific costs they will fund, they are open to requests for help with other types of bills and expenses.
As the community moves beyond the immediate crisis, Saull said the fund would be just as important post-pandemic because the negative financial impact will remain even when people go back to work.
“People are going to need to catch up on things, repay things,” Saull said. “Maybe their landlord agreed to let them pay later, but they’re still gonna have to pay.”
For complete information on applying, or to donate to the fund visit www.greatgtown.org/mutual-aid.