Detroit Nonprofits Work to Help Most in Need During Coronavirus Outbreak

“Much of this is trying to get dollars out of the door to help our community,” says Dr. Darienne Hudson, CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

The spread of the new coronavirus strain has upended daily life for nearly every Michigander. As businesses shutter, restaurants suspend service, and schools close, people are scrambling to connect the dots and make ends meet.

“Much of this is trying to get dollars out of the door to help our community.” – Dr. Darienne Hudson, United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

The financial implications of the current global health crisis are very real for many in the state, especially those who are unemployed, work in the service industry or are self-employed. (Are you experiencing financial hardship? Learn more about Michigan’s expanded unemployment benefits.) 

The United Way for Southeastern Michigan and other local nonprofits are working to help address the myriad health and financial concerns exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak. 

Listen: United Way CEO Dr. Darienne Hudson on helping those in need during the coronavirus outbreak.


Dr. Darienne Hudson, CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan, says the organization’s concerns range from tax preparation and census planning to serving domestic violence victims and aiding with childcare. “We’re really focused on access to food and food distribution,” says Dr. Hudson. United Way is also putting an emphasis on providing reliable information to the community in this uncertain time. Hudson says the organization’s information line is lighting up right now with questions about coronavirus and how to access food and supplies. 

Dr. Hudson says in order to get funds to the front lines of those serving the community during the pandemic, United Way and a range of partners have started a community response fund for COVID-19. Dr. Hudson says while she may not have been prepared for a pandemic of this severity, United Way is full steam ahead.  “We have a plan and are moving forward,” says Dr. Hudson. 

Applying for Unemployment

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits, effective immediately and until Tuesday, April 14 at 11:59 PM.

Under this order, unemployment would be expanded to:

  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill. 
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off. 
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19. 

Access to benefits for unemployed workers will also be extended:

  • Benefits will be increased from 20 to 26 weeks. 
  • The application eligibility period will be increased from 14 to 28 days 
  • The normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.  

Eligible employees should apply for unemployment benefits online at  or 1-866-500-0017. A factsheet on how to apply for benefits can be found here.  

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