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Issue Alert - 03-03-07

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Apr 01, 2003

Issue Summary:

State Emergency Relief (SER) will no longer provide emergency funds for households to replace furniture or appliances that were lost to fire, natural disaster or civil disorder.

Persons Affected:

Low-income families who need emergency help to replace furniture or appliances.


State Emergency Relief

What's Happening?

Effective April 1, 2003, the "Household Contents" category is changed to "Food." SER will no longer be able to help families purchase other household items, including furniture, appliances, pots, pans, linens and dishes. Families who need assistance with a broken furnace can still receive help from SER. There is another category of SER that helps families with energy-related home repairs. Through this category, families can receive SER funds to repair or replace a non-functioning furnace. The lifetime maximum for energy-related repairs is $1500.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advocates should be aware of the charitable organizations in their area that can help families obtain furniture and appliances, and should refer clients to those organizations for help. Advocates should still advise their clients to apply for State Emergency Relief (SER) for help with food and for other purposes that SER funds, like rent arrearages, utility shut-offs and furnace repair or replacement.

What Should Clients Do?

Clients should seek help to purchase furniture from local charitable organizations or churches. Clients should still apply for State Emergency Relief (SER) through the Family Independence Agency (FIA) for other emergency needs that the program can help with, like rent arrearages, utility shut-offs and furnace repair or replacement. If you think you have been incorrectly denied SER, seek legal advice.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services office handle these type of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate the "free" legal services or legal aid office that serves your county on the Michigan LawHelp website ( or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.