An independent non-profit organization in Michigan known as The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) may be able to help families that are faced with a crisis. Low income residents, with a focus on the unemployed, elderly, underemployed and disabled, may receive help for paying their energy bills.
The Heat And Warmth Fund was created in the 1980s to help low income families that are not being supported by other social service programs, government benefits, or non-profits. It serves as a program of last resort. Since it has been created the scope and breadth of the THAW program has been increasing. The non-profit is also a member organization of The Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm, which is a group that focuses on low-income home energy issues and resources.
Thousands of residents will usually receive some form of assistance every year. The majority of households that receive aid have a child or senior member in their home. Others may have a disabled member or somehow are vulnerable to the cold Michigan winters. The THAW energy utility bill assistance program is open to all Michigan families that meet eligibility guidelines.
If you are struggling to pay your utilities, you can get more information or apply for assistance at a screening site. They are located in towns and counties throughout Michigan. Trained counselors and specialists will interview the applicant, help people complete an online THAW application, and verify eligibility. Applicants must have already applied for any other available government or non-profit assistance prior to coming to THAW. So any financial aid or grants paid out are as a last resort.
Call 1-800-866-8429 to find a site to apply at. Most of the application sites are at local community agencies. So the advantage of this is that when low-income applicants stop by to apply, they will more often than not have other basic or financial needs such as a need for food or credit counseling. So the individual may be able to get more than just heating bill assistance when they stop by a local community action agency.
The program relies on donations as well. Please contribute if you can. Your donation will go to the needy and less fortunate. About 85% of what is donated goes to helping families with paying their bills and the balance is used for administrative costs. Also, many utility companies in Michigan contribute as well. They may provide funds to help pay for those administrative costs. Or local utility companies may provide in-kind or donated services.
While THAW will pay the utility or fuel provider directly, the demand for this program is very high. The local intake sites can’t control the volume of customers or phone calls and they can sometimes be overwhelmed. So please be patient as you go through the application process. Many of the sites may also require a formal intake or interview to be held as well. Always be prepared with proof of income, household members, and have supporting documentation.
In some cases the Heat and Warmth Fund may not be able to meet your needs or maybe the family does not qualify. In these cases staff from a local center can refer you to programs offered directly by your energy provider and they may even be able to help you apply for them. Or you can explore any other options that may be available in your town. Utility companies are there to help but people need to take the first step.
These utility companies may have payment options, extensions, budgeting bill type programs and more to offer their customers. Oftentimes these will be combined with the THAW program. The main phone number to call are DTE Energy (1-800-477-4747), Michigan Gas Utilities (1-800-401-6402), Consumers Energy (1-800-477-5050), and also SEMCO Energy (dial 1-800-624-2019).
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