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Sat September 24, 2011
Agencies look for new funding to help poor pay for heat
LANSING -- Social services groups are scrambling to
prevent thousands of low-income Michigan residents from having
their heat cut off after a program that helped pay overdue utility
bills for the poor lost its funding.
A court struck down the financing system used by the program in
July, and lawmakers haven't enacted a new one. With the aid money
running out as winter arrives, officials are temporarily drawing on
other funds to tide over needy families.
About 95,000 people get help each year through the 9-year-old
program. Most are probably safe until spring, thanks to a state law
that bars utilities from shutting off heat between Nov. 1 and March
But legislators say they must find a new way to raise $60
million to continue providing the assistance.