American Rescue Plan funds doubled the money available for home heating assistance across the country.
Michigan's government announced on May 4 that the state's Home Heating Credit fund would increase the benefits it pays to residents after it received a $70 million in funding under American Rescue Plan COVID relief legislation. The infusion of cash increases the fund's budget to $120 million for this fiscal year.
The Home Heating Credit program provides tax credits to qualified Michigan homeowners and renters to assist them in paying heating expenses.
"We urge Michiganders to apply for this credit so that they can get money back in their pockets to keep the heat on and spend their hard-earned paychecks to put food on the table and pay the bills," Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement announcing the expansion of the program.
In 2021, more than 178,000 residents of the state received the credit. Whitmer also sent many residents a one-time direct payment of between $100 and $200 when the state had funds from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, left over at the end of the year.
The LIHEAP program provides states with money for heating aid for low-income households. Michigan has received a total of $403 million under the Biden administration from LIHEAP, funding that was distributed through the state's Department of Health and Human Services.
The funding is the most ever sent at one time to Michigan for this purpose since LIHEAP was established in 1981.
Nationally, the American Rescue Plan Act has doubled the funding of the LIHEAP program by $4.5 billion to $8 billion. Funding for heating assistance was prioritized for states like Michigan that are most likely to experience severe or extreme winter weather.
The American Rescue Plan Act passed in Congress with only Democratic votes. All of the Republican members of Michigan's House delegation voted against the bill in March 2021, while the state's two Democratic senators and seven Democratic representatives voted in favor of it. The bill was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.
Additionally, $2.7 million of the funds under LIHEAP sent to Michigan was allocated under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was opposed by a majority of congressional Republicans but passed in both houses of Congress and was enacted by Biden on Nov. 15.
Money allocated under the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has also gone to fund upgrades and repairs to Michigan's water delivery infrastructure, including the replacement of lead service lines and programs that deal with contaminated water.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.