Each of us controls what we prioritize in life. A top priority for all of us should be ensuring that our basic necessities are being met. Basic necessities, according to the Indiana law that governs Township Trustee services, include such things as food, shelter, essential utilities, needed household items, clothing and footwear, and medical care. When an individual applies to us for assistance, all members of the household must show how their recent income has been expended. We expect clients to use their funds first for basic necessities. When an applicant’s money or resources are used on items other than basic necessities the applicant is considered to have “wasted resources,” and that may result in a denial of assistance. In the course of applying for assistance, our Investigators work with individuals to help them prioritize their household’s financial responsibilities and create realistic monthly household budgets.
Some of the tips an investigator may offer to a client are: to shop with coupons; to borrow DVDS, CDs, and books from the local library instead of buying or renting; to reduce the number of times one eats out; to buy food items in bulk if that gives a better price; to buy less junk food; to drink water instead of soda, fruit punch or beer; to turn off lights when not in use; to monitor water usage, turning it off unless it is being used, and repairing running toilets and leaking faucets; to reduce or stop smoking; to avoid gambling, including overspending on the lottery; to shop at thrift stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul or to purchase items at more expensive retail shops only during sales; and to make use of the Wayne Township Trustee Office Clothing Emporium for free stylish items.
The Trustee’s office staff looks at whether a household’s needs can be met by means other than an expenditure of township money. We expect individuals who are applying for Township Assistance to also apply for state or federal assistance programs. He or she should make application to the SNAP program (formerly known as Food Stamps) with the Family and Social Services Administration. During the part of the year when applications are accepted by the state’s Energy Assistance Program, individuals should file with that program. While on that program clients are expected to continue making payments on their utility bills.
A client’s noncash property that is not necessary for the health, safety, or decent living standard of his or her household are referred to as “countable assets.” These are owned wholly or in part by the applicant or a member of the applicant’s household, and that applicant or household member has the legal right to sell or liquidate the property. Noncash property includes items such as certificates of deposit, bonds, stocks, jewelry, and boats. The Trustee is not obligated to provide continued assistance to households that have not liquidated “countable assets” or other unnecessary items. Nonessential assets purchased by any member of a household after having applied for township assistance must be liquidated immediately before further assistance can be authorized.
Our goal when working with applicants is to help them move from assistance to independence. A staff member in our Employment Department searches out employment opportunities, posts them on the “Wall of Opportunity” (which can be readily viewed as you enter our office), and shares them with clients during our training classes. We also help clients with their resumes, and our Emporium offers free clothing that can be worn on employment interviews. We provide bus tickets for clients who don’t have transportation and are seeking employment.
These are some of the ways we work to remove obstacles that stand in the way of our clients securing employment. In this way we fulfill our dual mission of helping citizens in need to break free from the cycles of poverty while, at the same time, maintaining a careful guardianship of the taxpayer’s resources.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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