Upcoming Coffee Hours, Legislative Update, and Resources

Senator Chang


I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend! I’m writing to share some updates and announcements.

In this edition:

  • Upcoming Events
  • Power Outage
  • MPSC Considering DTE Case
  • Legislative Updates
  • Biden-Harris Student Debt Relief Resources
  • Before of Scammers Taking Advantage of Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program
  • Absentee Ballot Applications Now Available for the Nov. 8 General Election


UPCOMING EVENTS

Coffee Hour

Come join me and my team for coffee at Germack, hear updates on what we are working on in the district and legislature, and share your ideas or questions.

WHEN: Friday, Sept. 16 at 1 PM
WHERE: Germack Pistachio Co., 2509 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207

Coffee Hour

WHEN: Friday, Sept. 30 at NOON
WHERE: AWAKE Cafe, 4224 3rd Ave., Detroit, MI 48201


POWER OUTAGE

If you experience a power outage, contacting DTE to report the outage will ensure a timelier repair and let them know you need assistance. To report an outage online you may fill out a form at this link by submitting your home address or phone number, or you may call DTE directly at (800) 477-4747.

DTE also provides the ability to check the status of your outage, view the outage map, or report a downed power line on their website at outage.dteenergy.com. If you spot a downed power line, first call 911 and then inform DTE either by phone or online at the website listed above.

To minimize the inconvenience and safety risks posed by power outages, it is helpful to have an emergency plan in place before they occur. The City of Detroit recommends taking the following actions in preparation:

  • Sign up for the Detroit 365 emergency alert notification system online at public.coderedweb.com
  • Store enough food and water to last you or your family for two weeks
  • Consider backup power sources for personal and medical electronic needs, such as communication devices, lighting, or medical devices
  • Plan for the loss of heating or cooling and identify a location you can go to for heat or air conditioning
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with backup batteries and test them monthly
  • Use updated surge protectors for household electronics
  • Plan a safe emergency evacuation method and necessary transportation


MPSC CONSIDERING DTE CASE

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is currently reviewing DTE Energy’s proposed rate increase and changes to its rules regarding the supply of electric energy. The proposal includes an 8.8% rate increase for consumers and other provisions.

The MPSC recently held a public hearing in Detroit to hear comments from the public. I was proud to sign on to a letter urging MPSC to hold this public hearing, because it is critical that they hear directly from residents about their views as well as their experiences with utility shutoffs, power outages, utility bills, and more. Click here to learn more and submit your comment (Case U-20836), or submit your comments by mail to:

  • ATTN: Executive Secretary
    Michigan Public Service Commission
    PO Box 30221
    Lansing, MI 48909

You may also email comments to mpscdockets@michigan.gov. All comments should reference the MPSC case docket number, U-20836.


LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

Elevator Bills

After hearing so many concerns from residents about long-term elevator outages in their buildings, my team and I began to investigate this issue. We held a town hall with residents and held meetings with the United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) and Detroit Disability Power (DDP) to find potential solutions to this ongoing problem.

As a result of these conversations and research, Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) and I recently introduced two bills to address these issues: Senate Bills 1144 and 1145 would require building owners to develop a written plan to provide tenants with accommodations in the event of long-term elevator outages which could include temporarily relocating tenants to another building, covering a hotel stay, or engaging volunteer groups to assist residents who have mobility issues by delivering them necessary items. The building owner(s) would choose which accommodations work best for their needs and would also be required to share these written plans with tenants and submit them to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for their review.

Affordable Housing Bills

Recently, I introduced legislation together with Sen. Curt VanderWall to help more low-income Michiganders obtain, and keep, affordable housing. Michigan continues to face a housing crisis, with homeowners and renters alike struggling to stay in their homes. Senate Bills 1141 and 1142 seek to strengthen a great tool for more affordable housing for low-income residents — Community Land Trusts (CLTs) — without reducing local revenues from property taxes.

CLTs are private, nonprofit, community-based organizations designed to ensure community stewardship of land. Usually governed by a board of residents, they promote housing affordability and sustainable development by retaining the ownership of land underneath a home, selling the house and other structures to an income-qualified household at a reduced price, and then leasing the land to the buyer.

However, despite the nonprofits’ 501(c)(3) status, the land is still taxed because it is leased to a private entity. CLTs are required to pass these taxes on to the income-limited homeowner, who also has any residential improvements taxed at their full market value despite the land-lease arrangement restricting future sale prices. This, in turn, makes underwriting CLT mortgages more difficult. CLTs are an innovative, growing trend across the state and country that can help address the housing crisis, and that should be made easier to access.

You can read more about my CLT legislation on my website at SenatorStephanieChang.com.


BIDEN-HARRIS STUDENT DEBT RELIEF RESOURCES

Earlier this month, the Biden-Harris administration and Department of Education announced a student debt relief program. Here are the highlights of the announced loan debt relief:

  1. The current student loan repayment pause has been extended to Dec. 31, 2022, with payments resuming in January 2023.
  2. The U.S. Department of Education will provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 or $250,000 for households. Sign up here to be notified when the application for debt cancellation goes live.
  3. The previously announced limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program waiver is still in effect until Oct. 31, 2022. It forgives the remaining balance on your federal student loans after 120 payments working full-time for federal, state, tribal, or local government; military; or a qualifying nonprofit. The limited PSLF waiver allows borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF. For more information on eligibility and requirements, visit PSLF.gov.

We will be monitoring developments with this program and share more when there are more details and an application.


BEWARE OF SCAMMERS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN DEBT FORGIVENESS PROGRAM

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning Michiganders to be on the lookout for potential scammers seeking to take advantage of borrowers pursuing new sweeping student loan debt relief recently announced by the Biden Administration. AG Nessel encourages residents to follow these tips to avoid scams seeking to take advantage of borrowers’ eagerness to obtain debt relief:

  1. For more information about this relief, visit the Federal Student Aid website and/or their loan servicer.
  2. Do not provide your personal or financial information in response to unsolicited emails, phone calls, or texts either from the federal government or a company claiming to be able to assist you with obtaining the announced relief.
  3. Do not agree to pay anyone for assistance in obtaining this relief.
  4. Don’t be rushed. To get you to act fast, scammers say you could miss qualifying for repayment plans, loan consolidation, or loan forgiveness programs if you don’t sign up right away. Take your time and check it out.
  5. Don’t give away your FSA ID. Some scammers claim they need your FSA ID to help you, but don’t share your FSA ID with anyone. Dishonest people could use that information to get into your account and steal your identity.

Those who wish to make a report about potential scams can do so with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team by filing a complaint online or by calling 877-765-8388.


ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATIONS NOW AVAILABLE FOR THE NOV. 8 GENERAL ELECTION

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is reminding Michigan residents that they can now apply to vote absentee in the Nov. 8 general election. Voters choosing to vote by mail are encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible to avoid postal delays.

All voters registered in Michigan are eligible to vote absentee. They can apply online at Michigan.gov/Vote or print an application form from the site and mail, email, or hand deliver it to their local clerk. Voters can find their clerk’s contact information at Michigan.gov/Vote.

Voters with disabilities may apply online for an accessible electronic absent voter ballot at Michigan.gov/Vote or Michigan.gov/AccessibleBallot. The accessible ballot can be completed electronically, printed, and returned to their clerk.

Clerks will begin mailing out absent voter ballots by Sept. 29. They will be available for early, in-person voting in clerks’ offices on that date as well.

A ballot-tracking tool on the Michigan.gov/Vote site allows voters to check when their clerk received their absentee ballot request, when they mailed out the ballot and, when they received the ballot back from the voter.

For more information on absentee voting, or to register to vote, go to Michigan.gov/Vote.

Thank you for reading this update. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (517) 373-7346 if we can assist you in any way.        

   

Take care,     

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Stephanie Chang
State Senator
District 1


More news:

Upcoming Coffee Hours, Legislative Update, and Resources Sens. Chang, Moss Introduce Bills to Protect Residents during Elevator Outages Sens. Chang, VanderWall Introduce Bills to Promote Affordable Housing

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