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Some fear needy Michiganders may struggle to heat their homes this winter

State officials and local social service groups are working together to help needy Michiganders pay their heating bills this winter.  But how much government will help pay those heating bills remains a question.  

Earlier this year, a court ruled against how Michigan raised money for the low income heating assistance program.    And state lawmakers have not yet agreed on a new funding plan. That has some social service groups concerned about the future of the program.   

More than 90 thousand Michiganders rely on the program. 

Brian Rooney is the director of Policy and Compliance with the state Department of Human Services.  He says,  while the funding issues are worked out, DHS and local social service groups are working to help needy Michiganders pay their utility bills this winter.  

“We want to get to those people we know are tracking toward being in crisis…work with them to set up plans we believe they can meet,"  says Rooney.

There will be some federal funds available to help low income Michiganders pay their heating bills after October first,  but it will be much less than in recent years.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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