With the recent turn to cooler weather, we know that much colder temperatures are not far away. With that knowledge in mind, our thoughts turn to those who will not be able to afford their utility bills this coming heating season. As a matter of fact nearly 80,000 of our neighbors are in jeopardy of having their home heating shut off because of a recent court decision that prevents agencies like St. Vincent de Paul from receiving funds from the State of Michigan to assist people with their utility bills. A mix of federal grants and assessments to utility companies to assist low-income individuals with paying their utility bills is tied up because a group of high utility use companies filed and won a lawsuit to prevent the State of Michigan from collecting nearly $90 million dollars in tariffs to assist low-income individuals. An appeal has been filed, however in the meantime as winter approaches, many of our neighbors utilities will be shut off because they are unable to pay their bills. High unemployment and lack of steady income have forced many of our neighbors to be behind in their utility payments over the last few months. Last year the Society provided over $800,000 in utility assistance to over 1000 of our neighbors in need. This year, St. Vincent de Paul anticipates that number to rise to nearly $1miilion in utility assistance. The money for this coming heating season has already been collected by the utility companies, however, because of the lawsuit they are prevented from turning the money over to the state. A short-term fix is being worked on in the legislature which will free up these funds and allow St. Vincent de Paul to get these dollars in the hands of our neighbors to prevent their utilities from being shut off. Once the legislation is introduced, we will encourage all our members to ask their State legislators to support the legislation. In the meantime, when your furnace comes on, and you feel the warm air coming up from the register, remember and pray for those whose furnaces may not be coming on and are going without heat this winter season. Please visit http://www.MoreForThePoor.org to make an online donation.
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