Us Helping Us

Us Helping Us (1991)
Duration: 00:28:45

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Themes: Leadership | Urban Challenges | Poverty, Progress, and the Rise of African-American Businesses and Professionals |

Guests: Richard Trice, Cheryl Coleman
Host : Lonnie Peek
Producer : Tony Mottley

Summary: This broadcast from the fall of 1991 is really a continuation of the discussion in two earlier programs about the impact on welfare programs of massive budget cuts by the state of Michigan. The cuts had thrown more than 90,000 people off general assistance welfare rolls.

Gov. John Engler and supporters of the cuts argued that they were necessary to balance the state's budget and that able-bodied people should be required to get jobs instead of relying on welfare. Opponents argued that many of those who lost aid were mothers and small children, were not able-bodied, or were otherwise unable to find jobs.

This program, which features guest host Lonnie Peek - a long-time community activist - focuses more on private agencies that are struggling to cope with the increased need, and strongly encourages viewers to get involved by making contributions to such organizations.

Peek engages in an extended conversation with studio guest Cheryl Coleman, a representative of United Community Services, a part of the United Way Campaign. He also introduces a short taped interview with Richard Trice, deputy director of Operation GetDown's homeless program, and takes phone calls from several viewers.

In response to a question from Peek, Coleman says that many of the people who work with private social service agencies - such as homeless shelters and soup kitchens - have been left in a state of shock by the budget cuts. "The compassion is there but it's kind of being overwhelmed by the frustration and the tremendous need that we're seeing in the community," she says.

Coleman says that the problems of hunger and homelessness and unemployment need long-term solutions that will require cooperation among all levels of government.

In his taped interview, Trice is more directly critical of federal and state governments that he says are not meeting their responsibilities to help citizens in need.

"If there are already 480,000 people unemployed in the state, how do you tell 95,000 people to just go out and get a job? Obviously there's some fault in that logic," Trice says. "It's ludicrous to expect in terms of private sector involvement and volunteer sector involvement that you can take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the hands of clients and the resources for programs and then somehow magically the private sector and the volunteer sector is going to step in and replace that. That's not going to happen. The government does have a responsibility to meet these needs."

In conjunction with the two earlier programs (General Assistance Cuts, parts 1 and 2), this program helps illuminate the depth of the poverty problem that was facing Detroit and Michigan, as well as the efforts of private agencies to cope with the increased need brought about by the shift in governmental policy.

Related Production Materials held at MSU Libraries, Special Collections:
Box 4, File 18, Us Helping Us November 11, 1991 – Show # 2303