Help, neighbor

No matter who you are in this pandemic, you need to rely on someone else. Some of us more than others. Here are some resources to lift the floor beneath you.

We’ve got answers. Call 2-1-1 for information about assistance programs and resources, or to volunteer, organized by the Kalamazoo County Response Consortium. The Kalamazoo County call center is at 269-373-5267 and the Michigan Health and Human Services hotline is 888-535-6136, both open 8am-5pm, seven days a week.

Staying in your home. Evictions and tax foreclosures are being suspended, Kalamazoo County officials said on March 16. The City of Kalamazoo issued a moratorium on water shut-offs on March 16. Consumers Energy also said some shut-offs for non-payment have been suspended.

Safer food options. Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes is boxing up food assistance for scheduled, drive-through pick ups to keep clients and staff safe.

Business owner? The U.S. Small Business Administration has issued guidance and loan resources. The Michigan Small Business Development Center is involved in the Disaster Assistance Loans process, and has tips for managing a company through this pandemic.

Southwest Michigan First has published a “Financial Relief Quick Reference Guide” of federal, state, and local programs to help businesses. We’re linking to it here.

If you’ve been laid off, the State of Michigan has made more people eligible for unemployment benefits, such as those caring for dependents, workers who are at higher risk to or have become infected, including first responders.

Can you help? The Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the local United Way are taking donations for their emergency relief funds.

Suggestions? Email tips@nowkalamazoo.com.