Each month, energy assistance consistently ranks in the top three requested needs among people calling 2-1-1 for help, along with housing and food. Those seeking support have long relied on the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) which provides utility payment support to struggling low-income households. Unfortunately, many of those in need are not eligible for assistance because they earn too much to qualify, yet not enough to live above the ALICE Survivability threshold—the minimum amount necessary to consistently cover the cost of a household's basic monthly budget. Now is the time for the legislature to help more working Michiganders by expanding MEAP eligibility.
We're asking the Michigan legislature to pass Senate Bill 353 which would increase the MEAP eligibility threshold, expanding this vital support to more families and taking a major step toward ensuring all households in our community are able to meet their needs.
As cold winter months approach, households across Michigan are counting on access to utility assistance. Join us in urging the legislature to pass Senate Bill 353 today!
I am writing to urge you to expand access to energy assistance programs by voting in favor of Senate bill 353. In Michigan, those seeking additional assistance to pay home heating bills may not qualify due to income eligibility requirements despite still being unable to afford their bills. With so many people in our community already struggling to pay for basic necessities, it is essential that we work to remove barriers that make it more difficult for those below the ALICE Survivability threshold to access needed resources.
According to the ALICE Report, 38 percent of Michigan families are struggling to afford their basic needs. The Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) offers some relief by making energy costs more affordable for low-income residents. Currently, only households living below 150 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible to receive assistance through MEAP. But the ALICE report tells us that the actual cost of meeting a household's needs is often well above 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Utility assistance is the top unmet need in calls made to 2-1-1, but many households in need aren't eligible for the program. If passed, SB 353 would expand MEAP eligibility to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, a major step toward ensuring all households living below the ALICE threshold are able to meet their needs.
MEAP provides energy assistance and self-sufficiency services to eligible low-income households including direct bill assistance, educating individuals on energy efficiency optimization strategies, and helping them to set up budgeting plans or enroll in affordable payment plans. Thousands of households throughout Michigan have relied on MEAP in times of crisis and it continues to be a valuable resource.
Please support working households across Michigan households by passing SB 353, improving access to much needed resources for Michigan residents.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my thoughts on this important issue and for your service to our community.