Energy Assistance Spotlight: State Emergency Relief Program

Michigan is slowly but surely beginning to reopen its economy, providing a bit of relief for local businesses that have been impacted by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for many Michigan families—especially low-income households that may have already been struggling to make ends meet—there are still economic hardships to overcome.

One thing working families shouldn’t have to worry about is meeting their basic energy needs. That’s why energy assistance has never been more important than it is right now. It’s vital to know the resources available to help Michiganders avoid energy crises like shutoffs or other emergency situations.

What is the State Emergency Relief program?

The State Emergency Relief (SER) program provides crisis-intervention relief for low-income Michigan families with past-due or shutoff notices—as well as other emergency assistance necessitated by “families facing extreme hardship.” Administered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHSS), the SER program provides direct financial assistance, as well as support through a variety of state and local non-profit organizations, including the Salvation Army.

The SER program helps struggling Michigan households address critical needs through a variety of solutions, including:

According to their website, the program is “primarily designed to maintain low-income households who are normally able to meet their needs but occasionally need help when unexpected emergency situations arise.” The COVID-19 pandemic represents the kind of unexpected emergency situation that the SER program was intended to address.

Updates to the Program

MDHSS has made a number of changes to SER program requirements in order to expedite emergency requests and help make the program’s benefits more accessible to low-income Michigan families in need as a result of the pandemic. These updates include:

For more information about these changes, visit the MDHHS Emergency Relief page.

Find out if you’re eligible to enroll in the program here. And apply for SER benefits here.

And remember, if you aren’t someone who needs help yourself, you may know someone who does—even if you aren’t fully aware of their situation.  So please share this information with your friends, family, and online social networks to help ensure people in need know where they can go for help.