Phone: (517) 373-8080
LOW-INCOME WATER RESIDENTIAL AFFORDABILITY
House Bills 5088 and 5090 as introduced
Analysis available at
Sponsor: Rep. Abraham Aiyash http://www.legislature.mi.gov
House Bills 5089 and 5093 as introduced
Sponsor: Rep. Donavan McKinney
House Bill 5091 as introduced House Bill 5092 as introduced
Sponsor: Rep. Mike McFall Sponsor: Rep. Jimmie Wilson, Jr
Committee: Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation
House Bill 5088 would amend the Social Welfare Act to establish the low-income water
residential affordability program and provide for its purpose and eligibility requirements.
House Bill 5089 would amend the Social Welfare Act to establish the Low-Income Water
Residential Affordability Program Fund in the Department of Treasury. The fund would be
used to aid low-income residents for expenses related to water and sewer service.
House Bill 5090 would create a new act, the Water Shutoff Protection Act, which would
establish standards and criteria for when a water service provider can shut off water supply to
certain categories of nonpaying customer.
House Bill 5091 would amend 1972 PA 348, which regulates rental agreements between
landlords and tenants, to allow a tenant in a metered or sub-metered rental property to request
that a copy of the water and sewer bill be sent to both landlord and tenant, and to transfer the
water and sewer bill for the premises in the name of the tenant who is renting that unit.
House Bill 5092 would amend the Michigan Penal Code to make certain actions related to
restoring water service to a lawfully occupied residence after a water service shutoff a state
civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor.
House Bill 5093 would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to update MCL references to
reflect amendments proposed by HB 5092.
House Bill 5088 would add several new sections to the Social Welfare Act. Section 14n
includes the following definitions:
Eligible customer would mean a provider’s customer whose household income does
not exceed 200% of the federal poverty guidelines or who meets any of the following
• Has received assistance from a state emergency relief program within the past
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• Receives food assistance under the federal supplemental nutrition assistance
program administered by Michigan.
• Receives medical assistance administered under the Social Welfare Act.
• Receives assistance under the Michigan energy assistance program.
• Receives assistance under the special supplemental nutrition program for
women, infants, and children.
• Receives supplemental security income.
• Receives assistance under the weatherization assistance program.
Nonaffordability application would mean a form that the Department of Health and
Human Services (DHHS) would have to develop to trigger an income eligibility review
for the program. The application would include the option of authorization for release
of the customer’s information to the provider and the option for indicating consent to
receive telephone communications about the program.
Program administrator would mean DHHS, a provider, or a third-party organization
that administers a low-income water residential affordability program.
Provider would mean a community water supply that is publicly or privately owned
and provides retail water service in Michigan.
Residential customer would mean an individual who is receiving or is eligible to
receive water service at that individual’s primary residence.
Retail water customer would mean a residential or nonresidential customer receiving
a water bill for water service.
Water bill would mean a request from a provider to a retail water customer for payment
for water service. Water bill would include a request for payment of sewer, storm water,
or other related services if the provider charges for those services.
Low-income water residential affordability program
The bill would establish the low-income water residential affordability program in section 14o.
The purpose of the program would be to reduce or eliminate money owed for water bills, to
ensure that a water bill is based on the customer’s household income, and, subject to funding
availability, to keep a customer from spending more than 3% of their household income on
their water bill.
With the assistance of third-party organizations, DHHS would administer the program to
customers of a water provider that choose to use the program. Each year, DHHS and the
Department of Treasury would have to prepare projections to determine the estimated funding
required to offer program benefits to all enrolled and eligible customers and for eligible
applicants who will enroll in the next fiscal year.
If the fund will not have sufficient money to pay out the benefits according to the projections,
DHHS, the Department of Treasury, and the Low-Income Water Residential Affordability
Program Task Force (see below) would have to identify alternative funding sources or adjust
program benefits so they can be sustained through available funding. In consultation with the
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Department of Treasury and the task force, DHHS would have final decision-making authority
to ensure that program benefits do not exceed revenue collected. Based on available funding,
these three entities would have to prioritize program benefits designed to provide eligible
applicants with household income-based water bills over other program benefits. Reducing the
program benefits corresponding with the tier with the lowest household income (see below)
could only occur if all other alternatives have been exhausted.
The low-income water residential affordability program would begin 18 months after
collection begins for the Low-Income Water Residential Affordability Program Fund (created
in HB 5089). When the program starts, it would be open to providers with 500 or more retail
water service connections. The program would apply to all water providers in Michigan 18
months after it is initiated.
Program application process
After receiving a signed nonaffordability application, DHHS or the program administrator
would have 30 days to perform an income eligibility review to determine whether the applicant
is eligible for the program. The application would have to be simple and accessible and include
authorizations for release of the customer’s information to the provider and for the program
administrator to call or text the individual about the program.
DHHS or the program administrator would have to immediately notify the provider once an
eligibility review begins. After that notification, the provider could not pursue shutoff of
service during the review.
In addition to any other verification of income accepted by the program administrator, a federal
income tax return would count as documentation of income. When applicable, the program
administrator would have to use publicly available information regarding standard benefit
amounts for supplemental security income and temporary assistance to needy families in
determining eligibility. An applicant would have no obligation to provide confirmation of the
amount of benefits they receive from supplemental security income. Among other documents
as determined by the program administrator, the program administrator would have to consider
the customer’s enrollment in the low-income home energy assistance program, the
supplemental nutrition assistance program, the special supplemental nutrition program for
women, infants, and children, supplemental security insurance, the weatherization assistance
program, or the customer’s self-verification of income or lack of income as proof of the
customer’s eligibility in the form of a written customer statement regarding their income or
lack of income.
DHHS could contract or collaborate with a third-party organization that collects or processes
household income information in order to do any of the following:
• Complete this eligibility review to determine if an individual meets the requirements
for the low-income water residential affordability program
• Notify the applicant and provider
• Perform other functions necessary for implementing the low-income water residential
Once review is completed, the applicant would have to be notified of the results. If the program
administrator finds that the applicant is an eligible customer, the administrator would have to
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provide the applicant with information about the low-income water residential affordability
program and the rate to be charged by the provider. If the applicant is not an eligible customer,
the program administrator would have to provide the applicant with information on the appeal
and complaint process (which DHHS would have to create) through which a customer could
challenge the eligibility determination or otherwise submit a complaint about the program.
If an appeal is filed, the administrator would have to notify the appealing applicant’s provider
to place a hold on the customer’s account to cease collection or disconnection of service until
the appeal process has been completed. Additionally, DHHS would have to create a process
and timeline for redetermination based on recommendations of the Low-Income Water
Residential Affordability Program Task Force. There could not be a time limit on a customer’s
enrollment in an affordability program.
If the applicant is an eligible customer, the program administrator would have to provide their
information and household income to their provider. Upon receiving the information, the
provider would have to provide a discount, credit, or other method on the eligible customer’s
water bill to result in a bill that is affordable based on the eligible customer’s household
income, as determined by the program administrator. The provider could not provide a discount
or credit if the eligible customer’s pre-discount, pre-credit bill amount would be lower than the
bill amount after application of that discount or credit (i.e., the provider would not be required
to issue a credit or discount resulting in a negative balance). The discount or credit would have
to apply to the entire water bill, including any rider, fee, surcharge, or the funding factor (the
$2 per retail water meter fee created in HB 5089 that provides funding for the affordability
In consultation with the Low-Income Water Residential Affordability Program Task Force,
eligible customers would be sorted into tiers based on household income compared to federal
poverty guidelines, along with the corresponding discounts, credits, or percentage of household
income cap on water bills for each tier.
A water provider could count discounts, credits, or other methods to ensure water bills meet
the 3% of household income threshold created by the bill. The tiers would have to include the
• A tier for households where the household income is not more than 135% of the federal
poverty guidelines and the corresponding cap is 2% of household income, or there is a
standardized household contribution of 2% of the average household income for
households with income not exceeding 135% of the federal poverty guidelines within
the provider’s water service area
• A tier for households where the household income is greater than 135% but not more
than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines and the corresponding cap is 3% of
household income or there is a standardized household contribution of 3% of the
average household income for households with income between 135% and 200% of
the federal poverty guidelines within the provider’s water service area.
DHHS would have to adjust the standardized household contribution based on the Department
of Treasury’s projections of available annual funding that would have to include a projection
for not less than a 10% fund balance to remain at the close of the fiscal year.
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Other program benefits
The bill requires the program administrator to make a good-faith effort to assess whether an
eligible customer needs a household plumbing repair to address a leak or other plumbing or
water service issue. DHHS or a contracted third-party organization would have to connect the
eligible customer with resources to fix the water service issue and pay for the necessary minor
repair, up to $2,500 per household. The program administrator would have to establish a waiver
process for those customers demonstrating extreme need to issue payment over $2,500 for
Provider notification of affordability programs
Section 14p of the bill would require each provider to notify its customers of the existence of
the affordability program or provider’s own affordability program for low-income customers,
along with the respective application process. This notice would have to be provided in writing
on the customer’s water bill and on the provider’s website. Beginning January 1, 2025, DHHS
would have to provide notice to all individuals receiving benefit program services regarding
the availability of the program and the process to apply.
Low-Income Water Residential Affordability Program Task Force
Section 14q of the bill would require DHHS to create the Low-Income Water Residential
Affordability Program Task Force within 30 days after the bill takes effect. The director of
DHHS would be responsible for appointing task force members, who would have to include at
least all of the following:
• A representative of a water service provider that services fewer than 3,000 people.
• A representative of a water provider serving between 3,300 and 10,000 people.
• A representative of a water provider serving over 10,000 people.
• A representative from water and sewerage customer advocacy groups.
• A representative from community action agencies.
• A representative from municipal governments.
• A representative from environmental groups.
The task force would have to do all of the following:
• Discuss, and advise DHHS on best practices for administering the low-income water
residential affordability program.
• Within nine months after the bill’s effective date, develop further guidance for the
program, which DHHS would have to implement within 18 months after the bill’s
• Work with DHHS to develop educational outreach materials about the program.
• Seek additional funding sources for the program.
• Explore ways to expand the program to include more types of water providers.
In collaboration with the Department of Treasury, DHHS would have to distribute funding
from the Water Affordability Fund (presumably the Low-Income Water Residential
Affordability Fund) to the water providers to make up the difference between the total of
customers’ actual water, sewerage, and storm water bill and the total discounted water and
sewerage bills provided through DHHS’s or a provider’s low-income water residential
affordability program, along with funding for plumbing repairs, which would have their own
specific amount set aside. The Department of Treasury would also distribute funds to cover the
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administrative costs of third-party organizations that collaborate with DHHS to administer the
Forgiveness of outstanding water bill balances
In section 14r, the bill would provide that timely payment, as defined by the water provider, of
a water bill satisfies the customer’s current water liability so there is no addition to the amount
A customer who has a balance of not more than $1,500 at the time they enroll in the program
would have that entire balance forgiven. If the outstanding amount owed is greater than $1,500,
then the customer would have half of their balance forgiven at the time of program enrollment,
followed by forgiveness of an additional $1,500 if they successfully participate in the program
for 12 months. Participation in the program fo