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Warren council OKs crowdfunding for flood relief

posted Sep 21, 2014, 9:57 PM by J Shaw   [ updated Sep 21, 2014, 9:58 PM ]
WARREN — Residents and business owners able to help their neighbors rebuild after the August flood can do so in a simple way through the power of Internet crowdfunding.

The Warren City Council voted 6-1 earlier this month to establish a “CityofWarren Crowdfunding 2014” page at www.Go, a site designed to help individuals or groups raise money for specific causes.

City Council Secretary Scott Stevens proposed the idea as a way of generating funds to replace essential equipment — including furnaces and hot water heaters — for seniors and disabled residents affected by last month’s flood. He said he was “very confident” in the ability to raise $120,000 to assist qualified applicants by early November.

“Every cent brought in would be accounted for and spent on flooding victims,” Stevens said. “That’s the goal, and I think it’s something that is very, very simple for us to administer.”

Many council members, while supportive of the idea, had questions about how the funds would be distributed.

City Council member Kelly Colegio said the state’s Department of Human Services already has a fund established for flood aid that is administered to qualified families through a program in place at the city’s Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church.

Colegio said she favored allowing DHS to distribute funds to those in need of assistance.

“The DHS has an open account that they have made available to the city of Warren to accept donations for us,” Colegio said. “What if you have 300 residents and all of them have the same need amount? How are you going to pick them and administer it? I personally think we should just go with DHS. It’s already set up.”

Council member Pat Green suggested turning funds collected through the site over to DHS for distribution, and he cast the lone vote against the proposal when that wasn’t made part of the official motion.

Council member Robert Boccomino said having DHS administer the funds would alleviate any potential questions that could arise from tasking city officials with deciding how the money would be distributed.

“Whoever doesn’t get any help, it’s going to hurt. It’s going to sting a little bit,” Boccomino said. “I think having a third party make those choices takes that sting out of it, and doesn’t point back to favoritism or conspiracy theories.”

Council member Steve Warner said he would be willing to support fundraising through both the DHS and the city’s crowdfunding effort.

“I think the more we come together, the more we can help,” Warner said.

Stevens said the funds could be generated through the site, collected through the office of Warren City Treasurer Carolyn Kurkowski Moceri and given to DHS for distribution afterward, but that delaying the creation of the crowdfunding page was simply wasting time.

“Making decisions: that’s what leaders do,” Stevens said. “That’s why we’re up here.”

Guidelines included on the city’s crowdfunding page at listed the following criteria for assistance: seniors who are 65 years of age or older, individuals who are totally or permanently disabled, and individuals meeting low-income guidelines.

Those who donate $25 to the cause online through www.go or directly through city offices are eligible to receive a free T-shirt.  The page indicates that donations are tax-deductible.

Donations made directly through the city can be delivered to the Warren City Council Office, 5460 Arden Suite 505, Warren, MI 48092.  They can also be made through the office of the Warren City Treasurer Carolyn Kurkowski Moceri, 1 City Square Second Floor, Warren, MI 48093.

Checks must be made payable to the City of Warren and must include “Crowdfunding 2014” in the memo line.

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