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Michigan exhausts emergency relief program funds for the fiscal year

Financial assistance for Michiganders needing help covering essential services has run out for the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30. The State Emergency Relief Program supports people facing a crisis with overdue utility bills, home repairs and burial expenses.

The program's funding is derived from a combination of federal and state sources. For the first time since 2020, the funding has been depleted early leaving thousands of households without support for the next several months.

“We are looking internally at strategies that we can deploy that would give us an opportunity to at least get us through a portion of the season,” said Dwayne Haywood, senior deputy director of the Economic Stability Administration at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Haywood said supporting families is critical ahead of the colder months, when keeping warm can be increasingly costly for those already struggling to pay their bills.

This year, just over $115 million was allocated to 181,000 households through the State Emergency Relief Program. While 30,000 more households received funding in 2024 than in the 2023 fiscal year, the program’s budget was reduced by $2 million. The average payment received was around $358 dollars.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the state consistently depleted funds for the program every year but the addition of federal pandemic relief funds have generally secured the program’s continuation through the full fiscal year.

With those relief funds dwindling, officials with the state health department say the funds are once again running out early even as more families apply for support.
 
“Now we're the sole source funding for crisis assistance with the exception of Community Action agencies and so the need has increased, and the funding has decreased,” Nicole Denson-Sogbaka,

The state is continuing to process emergency relief applications submitted before June 14. Applications for the assistance program will reopen on Oct. 1. To qualify, applicants' household income must be 150% at or below the federal income level. This means a family of four would need to make $46,800 a year or less.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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