Healthcare Marketplace Enrollment Assistance

Thanks to the Washtenaw Health Initiative and the United Way of Wasthenaw County you can get help applying for 2016 health insurance on Saturday, January 30th from 9am to 3pm at the United Way of Washtenaw County office. No appointment is necessary and walk-ins are welcome. If you want to enroll in health insurance, you must bring the following with you:

* Social Security numbers (and immigration documents for legal immigrants) for everyone applying for coverage

* Employer and income information for every member of your household (for example, pay stubs or W2 forms)

* Policy information on health insurance if you or someone in your household have it from a job or another source

* Your best estimate of what your 2016 household income will be in 2016

Failure to get coverage may result in a 2016 tax penalty of $695 per person or 2.5% of your yearly income, whichever is higher. For additional information contact Krista Nordberg at 734-544-6778.

Money Smart Classes for Adults

Through partnership with United Way, Washtenaw Literacy is offering free classes that include financial literacy curriculum professionally prepared by FDIC and presented by a staff member from United Way of Washtenaw County. Sessions will be 1-2:30 on Wednesdays, February 3 through April 6 at the Community Opportunity Center Computer Lab (1301 S. Harris in Ypsilanti). The curriculum will be presented 1-1:45, then, tutors will be available to help folks review materials, complete graphic organizers, and more. This is a great opportunity to improve your Money Smart knowledge! To register, or for more information, call 734-879-1320.

PIT Count 2016

PIT Count 2016PIT Count 2016Every January, Washtenaw County takes part in the Point-in-Time count, as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Point-in-Time count, or PIT count, is the night when homeless service provider staff and volunteers will canvass the streets of Washtenaw County to count the number of persons who are unsheltered on one night in our community. Our community's 2016 unsheltered PIT count will occur between 4 a.m.- 8 a.m. on Wednesday, January 28, 2016. If you are interested in volunteering as part of a street canvassing team, please complete this form.

*For social service providers: if you know of someone who is currently sleeping in an unsheltered situation (on the streets, in car, etc.), please contact Heather Nash, the Washtenaw Housing Alliance’s Communications & Administrative Assistant as soon as possible, at nashh@ewashtenaw.org or (734) 222-6544. Include the number of people, and details about their location.

If you or someone you know is in an unstable housing situation, please contact Housing Access of Washtenaw County at (734) 761-1999 to speak with a housing specialist.

University of Michigan Housing Bureau for Seniors Tax Preparation Assistance

The University of Michigan Housing Bureau for Seniors is offering assistance with federal and state tax returns, back taxes, property tax concerns, and poverty exemption applications to lower property tax bills. There are no age limits for these services. Assistance will be available on Fridays from February 6 to April 8 and on Wednesdays February 10, March 9 & and March 30. There is limited walk-in availability, and appointments are preferred. To make an appointment, call Dare Adewole at 734-998-9341.

Want to Save Yourself Money This Tax Season?

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a nationwide program sponsored by the IRS that is available during tax season. Volunteers provide basic tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with a household income of approximately $53,000 a year or less. An alternative program helps you prepare your own taxes if your income is below $60,000 a year.

This service allows low-income families to file their taxes for free - without expensive tax prep services or predatory refund-anticipation loans. The United Way of Washtenaw County VITA program also helps you receive valuable tax credits or programs that you may be eligible for, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Home Heating Credit.

The VITA Program ensures that low-income individuals receive the maximum refund possible, to meet their own pressing basic needs or save for the future. In 2015, the United Way of Washtenaw County VITA Program returned approximately $375,000 to the community.

The United Way of Washtenaw County VITA Program offers a few services:

* Full-service tax preparation: Available by appointment only, February 4-April 6. Schedule your appointment now by calling 734-677-7235 or email vita@uwwashtenaw.org.

* Onsite or At-Home Self-Preparation: For taxpayers that do not qualify for full-service tax prep or those who prefer to do their own taxes with a "coach" available. Tax coach assistance is available over the phone or onsite if you have questions or need help. Free help is available from 1-855-698-9435. MyFreeTaxes.com is a free service for individuals with a combined income of $62,000 or less in 2015. Access from any computer with internet access and file your taxes for free.

* Scan & Go: For qualifying tax clients at select locations. Have your documents scanned and your tax return will be prepared off-site to be picked up by you in one or two weeks.

Free Classes from MSU Extension

Michigan State University Extension helps people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses. You can find a class by searching the event schedule here. Some of the featured free classes are:

Parenting on Your Own: Nurturing Parenting, every Thursday, 10:30 to 11:30 am at the Hope Center. To register call 734-222-3943.

Dollar Works Money Management Series, Thursdays Feb. 11, 18, 25 & March 3, 6:00 to 7:30 pm at the Washtenaw County LRC. To register call 734-222-3943.

Home Ownership Education, Wednesday Jan. 13 & 20, 6:00 to 9:00 pm and Wednesday Feb. 11, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at MSU Extension Washtenaw County. To register call 734-222-9595.

Free safety gear

The getDowntown program and the Downtown Development Authority are looking to supply commuters with free reflective gear. Beginning this month, employees who work in Downtown Ann Arbor have access to free lights and reflective wrist and ankle bands to keep them safe on their trek to and from work. Those that are interested can stop by the getDowntown office located at the Blake Transit Center, 328 S. Fifth Ave., or email info@getdowntown.org to request delivery of an item to any downtown work place.

Ride on, and travel safe!

Opportunities for Veterans: A Look at Housing, Employment, and Your Rights

Tuesday February 9, 2016: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This informational panel discussion will focus on resources for veterans and their families in Washtenaw County. Particular focus will be on housing, community re-integration, employment opportunities, and supportive services.

Speakers include:
• Rebecca Rowland, M.S.W, Michigan Ability Partners.
- Rebecca is the Vocational Team Leader for MAP, and Co-Chair of the Hire MI Vet community initiative.

• Heather Popkey, B.S.W, Michigan Ability Partners.
-Heather is a Veterans Services Case Manager, and administers the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program in Washtenaw County.

• Sterling Meeuwen, Eastern Michigan University Student
-Sterling was stationed at Fort Benning, GA as an infantryman of the United States Army from 1999-2003,

• Derrick Miller, Deputy Director for Community Action Network.
- A 6-year Veteran of the Marine Corps, he has extensive experience with low-income clients and area service providers

• Peter C. Clark, former federal prosecutor and US Army JAG attorney.
- Peter works with clients to cover a wide variety of estate planning needs

• Martina Wells, LCSW, LCAS- Transition & Care Management (TCM) Team Program Manager, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.
- Martina oversees the TCM program which is committed to helping Post 9/11 and OEF/OIF/OND Veterans transition to civilian life

This event is held in conjunction with the Downtown Library February exhibit Always Lost: A Meditation on War.

Warming Center Schedule 2015-2016

Thus far, Michigan has thankfully been spared from the extremely harsh weather of years past. But for those that don't have a reliable place to stay, many hours exposed to the elements can exacerbate an already difficult situation. The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County has released the following information about the Delonis Centers' Overnight Warming Center.

Please note that interested parties must have a referral from Housing Access, and need to meet the definition of "literally homeless." You can contact Housing Access at (734) 961-1999 M, W, F 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m., and T-Th 8:30 a.m.- 7:00 p.m. Drug or alcohol use are not allowed on site and is grounds for trespass.

Warming Center Details:

Opens: November 16th 2015
Closes: March 28th 2016
Sign-In is at 9:00 p.m. People may stay inside at the Delonis Center beginning at dinner until sign in. Clients must leave at 7:00 a.m. Breakfast is served at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 304 N. Division St. beginning at 7:30 a.m.

If you have any questions, please contact Ellen Schulmeister at schule@ewashtenaw.org. Details about a Daytime Warming Center will be released at a later date.

VisionConnect™ Free Accessible App from the American Foundation for the Blind

VisionConnect™ is a new, free, accessible app for iPhones and iPads from the American Foundation for the Blind that gives support to people losing their vision. The app can also help busy rehabilitation professionals, teachers, doctors and other health care professionals as they provide information about vision rehabilitation services to individuals with vision loss and/or their families.

VisionConnect™ provides:
• A directory of services searchable by service, zip code, and distance, available in the U.S. and Canada.
• Resources and tips for living independently with a visual impairment.
• Links to useful information on VisionAware, FamilyConnect, and CareerConnect.
• Information on products and technology.
• Personal stories and employment advice.
• A way to save directory search results and email them.

You can learn more about the app at AFB VisionConnect™ App and download it for free at afb.org/apps.

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