LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan residents who are struggling to afford utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic can soon find assistance with an additional $35,130,421 in additional federal funding to help the state.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced the additional funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program from the CARES Act.
The funding is in addition to this year’s more than $162 million in regular funding. The additional money will be used for crisis assistance to help struggling households pay part of their energy costs.
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Residents who are struggling to pay bills should contact their energy providers right away for flexible payment plans and other help.
“Utilities have special protections because of the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, but customers need to reach out and apply for utility assistance while it’s available.“
Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman Sally Talberg
Energy providers across the state will pause shutoffs for low-income and senior residential customers until the emergency is lifted.
“MDHHS is working hard during the pandemic to expand public assistance benefits and provide easier access to financial help for residents who are struggling to pay their bills.”
Michigan Department of Health and Human Service Senior Deputy Director for Opportunity Lewis Roubal
Anyone facing financial distress because of COVID-19 is urged to:
- Contact your utility or propane supplier to ask what kind of protections, funding, flexible payment options, or energy saving tools and resources are available.
- Call 211 or go to mi211.org for information about getting help paying your utility bill or how to contact agencies that may assist you with your energy bill.
- Apply for State Emergency Relief (SER) directly through the MI Bridges program for bill payment assistance if you are in jeopardy of losing heat or electric services, have already had service shut off, or are in need of a deliverable fuel, or call 855-275-6424. You can also get assistance with the application process by calling 211 to be referred to a MEAP grantee that can help.
- Apply for a Home Heating Credit. Visit the Michigan Department of Treasury’s website to see if you qualify. Even though this funding is distributed by the Department of Treasury, you do not need to file taxes or wait for a tax return to receive this credit, so apply now if you are eligible. For more information, read the MPSC’s Home Heating Credit consumer tips.