Category: Government Benefits and Programs
The first energy grant is the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally-funded block grant government program. LIHEAP funds are administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) administer these funds on an emergency basis through the Michigan State Emergency Relief (SER) program either to prevent service interruption, restore services, or aid in qualifying for long-term aid with other utility assistance programs.
The second is the state-funded Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP). MEAP funds are administered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and allocated to contracted community organizations.
Several community organizations in Michigan dispense MEAP funds under varied program designs, program names and eligibility requirements within funding guidelines but are not directly handled by utility companies. The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) and Neighborhood Organization Services (NSO) are two such agencies that provide utility assistance to consumers with MEAP funds.
Visit the Community Resources section for a complete list of utility assistance programs.
Each agency has implemented their programs with special names but monies are distributed from the same fund and divided among participating agencies to provide consumer services. Community organizations submit proposals to participate in the program each fiscal year and develop partnerships for the continuity of care.
Continuity of care is a social services term that simply refers to other services a client may need to maintain low-energy costs or other financial needs, for example. That means, each community organization will assess your household needs such as employment, budgeting classes, etc. and coordinate those services to provide them directly through their agency or other partnerships in the community.
The Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Program (LSP) funded by the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) is a utility assistance program with monies allocated to most MEAP participating community organizations by MDHHS.
The Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Program (LSP), most commonly administered by United Way, is a long-term utility assistance program with a specific structure to prevent utility shut-offs, reduce energy costs over time, and promote financial self-sufficiency.
Community organizations dispense LSP funds but not under special program names. They are contracted with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to process enrollment applications for qualifying households based on predetermined eligibility criteria.
DTE and Consumer’s Energy (the main energy providers in Michigan) do not handle LSP enrollment but does offer support services for LSP enrollees. LSP funds are also available through community organizations such as THAW and NSO but are not handled directly by utility companies or Department of Human Services (DHS), formerly, the Family Independence Agency (FIA).
Please check the Community Resources section for participating agencies, income and other eligibility criteria for LSP enrollment which allows an affordable structured payment plan (usually about 5% of the total bill) for energy consumers up to two (2) years. Approved applicants also remain eligible for the Home Heating Credit tax refund program.
Energy consumers should not confuse these funding sources with internal protection plans offered by the utility company. For example, DTE Energy offers a Shut-off Protection Plan that requires high deposits and monthly bills that are usually not affordable for consumers to sustain. We recommend that you apply for utility assistance.
LIHEAP and MEAP grants are available to energy consumers who are both in the “Past Due” or “Shut-Off” status and after service interruption.
Assistance through the Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Program (LSP) are not available after utility services are disconnected.
Open enrollment for United Way's LSP FY18, closed Wednesday, April 25, 2018 and new enrollment is expected to begin October 1, 2018 pending state and federal appropriation budget approvals. We will keep you posted.
LIHEAP funds are available through the State Emergency Relief (SER) program year-round pending funding availability. This program is helpful in preventing shut-offs prior to October 1 as well as restoring services that have been terminated.
For added protection, the State of Michigan also prohibits utility shut-offs due to non-payment during the winter season beginning November 1st to March 31st. You may contact the Michigan Public Service Commission (the utility regulatory authority in Michigan) to file a complaint in case of illegal service interruption. See the Community Resources section for contact information.
If you need further information or assistance please complete the confidential Contact Form.
COMMUNITY RESOURCES - UTILITY ASSISTANCE SECTION
Welcome to The Community Advocate Network. My name is Deborah Mitchell, I am a graduate in Social Work and Registered Social Work Technician. My human service background began in 2007 which includes medical case management and service navigation for the indigent population, outpatient mental health counseling with substance use and abuse disorders, supportive employment and job development for mental health consumers, and structured living domicile management.