District 18 News & Updates

State Senator Jeff Irwin

Dear Neighbor,

I want to make sure you’re informed about what has been going on in our state government and update you on what I’ve been working on. 

In this e-news, you can find information about:

  • Tribar Spill in the Huron River
  • Student Loan Forgiveness and Refunds 
  • Mortgage, Rental and Utility Assistance
  • Legislative Updates
  • COVID-19 Resources
  • Energy Bill Assistance and Shutoff Protection

As always, you can reach my office at (517) 373-2406 or by replying to this email.  

Sincerely, 

State Senator Jeff Irwin

Jeff Irwin

State Senator
18th District 


TRIBAR SPILL IN THE HURON RIVER

Tribar Plating in Wixom, the same firm responsible for the PFAS compounds found in the Huron River, have released a large amount of hexavalent chromium into the Huron River. This is a very concerning development, and my office is already working with EGLE to:

  • Get the best information on where this plume is now (still far upriver but we need top-quality information on where this pollution is); 
  • Push out public health information for residents to understand the dangers of the situation and what should be done to mitigate those issues; and,
  • Hold the polluters responsible for the costs to residents, our communities, and the damage that their negligence is causing.

Update as of 8/4/2022:

  • All 9 samples collected came back non-detected for hexavalent chromium. Monitoring efforts are expanding to ensure protection of public health. These samples were taken between the Wixom WWTP discharge point from Norton Creek to just downstream of Kent Lake.
  • Sampling done on 8/4/2022 will have several focuses: 
    • 3 crews are in the field. One began at Barton Pond and is working their way upstream, with the other two focusing heavily on Kent Lake and current do-not-contact areas. This sampling will cover 29 different locations, some with multiple samples. 
    • EGLE and Wixom are focusing on the possibility that the chrome compounds may have been tied up at the Wixom WWTP. 

To date, sampling staff have not observed any impacts to wildlife. Currently, EGLE does not believe there is a need for testing of residential wells near the river. They’re informing people that properly designed drinking water wells, constructed by a registered well driller and permitted by the local health department, should not be directly influenced by surface water. Therefore, such wells will unlikely be contaminated by chromium from the river.  However, unpermitted driven sand points and submerged irrigation pumps installed by property owners along the river may be vulnerable and should never be used for drinking water.


STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS AND REFUNDS FOR PUBLIC SERVICE

Do you want to eliminate your college debt? You may have seen ads or emails alerting you that if you work in the public sector, you may be entitled to student loan forgiveness or have some of your payments refunded – THIS IS NOT A SCAM. 

There are some important things to know about this. If you:

  • Have Direct Loans that are not in default; and,
  • Work full-time for a qualifying employer during the payment suspension.

You can earn credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSFL) and Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) as if you continued to make regular monthly payments. You can think of them as $0 payments. The only thing you need to do is submit the PSLF and TEPSLF Certification and Application (PSLF form) to get qualifying payment credit. Learn about other eligibility requirements for PSLF and TEPSLF.

Refunds

You can get a refund for any payments you make during the payment pause (March 13, 2020, through Aug. 31, 2022). Even if you get a refund, that month still counts toward PSLF, if all other qualifications are met. Just call your servicer to ask for a refund.

Applying for PSLF and TEPSLF

You can still apply for, and get forgiveness, if you reach your 120 qualifying payments during the payment pause. If you’re eligible for forgiveness, the amount forgiven will be the principal and interest that was due after you made your 120th qualifying payment. 

No Fees

There is no fee for the payment pause and other federal student loan benefits — not from the federal government and not from your loan servicer. For example, if someone asks for money to suspend payments on your loans or help you apply for PSLF, it’s a scam. 


MORTGAGE, RENTAL AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE

MHAF Application

Homeowners can apply for the MIHAF program here. Before you start, please make sure you have all the necessary documents and information. You can find what documents and information you’ll need here.

Click here for the MIHAF Application.

Who Is Eligible?

  • Homeowners with household incomes less than 150% of Area Median Income (AMI).
  • Homeowners who own and occupy the property as their primary residence.
  • Homeowners must have and explain a financial hardship directly related to COVID-19 on or after January 21, 2020. 

Up to $25,000 grant per eligible household to pay:

  • Delinquent mortgage/housing expenses, including property tax and insurance escrow shortages,
  • Delinquent land contract payments, mobile home consumer loan payments or mobile home park lot payments,
  • Delinquent property taxes,
  • Delinquent condominium/homeowners’ association fees,
  • Delinquent homeowner’s insurance,
  • Delinquent utilities, gas, electricity, water, sewer,
  • Delinquent internet broadband services.


CERA Application

Tenants and landlords can apply by clicking here. Before you start, please make sure you have all the necessary documents and information. You can find what documents and information you’ll need here.

Click here for the CERA application.

Who Is Eligible?

CERA serves renter households that have incomes less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) who meet the following conditions:

  • Individual(s) in the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or has experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the coronavirus outbreak; and 
  • Individual(s) in the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability by being past due on rent.

Utility Assistance

Households eligible for CERA can also receive utility assistance for tenant supplied electricity, home heating (any type of fuel), water, sewer and trash (if billed along with another utility).

Internet Assistance

Through CERA, a flat $300 internet stipend that is available for households that have home internet and include a recent internet bill/statement in their application. The $300 payment will be made to either the Internet service provider or the tenant.


LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

State Budget Has Been Passed!

Again, we’ve passed a bipartisan budget. Our governor and legislature worked together, and we were able to make major investments in our state and education system. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’m very proud of the work we did on this budget. Here are some of the highlights:

Psychiatric Facility:

There is a critical shortage of bed space for people struggling with a mental health crisis, and people have not been able to get the care they need. Our state budget addresses this by appropriating $325 million for a new state psychiatric facility complex. This funding will help construct a single campus that will replace the facilities at the Hawthorn Center and Walter Reuther Hospital, increasing inpatient capacity and improving the services provided.

Per-Pupil Funding:

For the second year in a row, we are increasing the per-pupil funding. This again will be the highest state per-pupil funding in Michigan history. Together, Governor Whitmer and our legislature are putting $610 million to increase base per-pupil funding from $8,700 to $9,150, a 5.2% increase that equates to $450 per student. We also appropriated $223 million to fully fund support for economically disadvantaged students.

While I hoped we would have appropriated more dollars, I’m proud that we are making this substantial investment. This funding will allow school districts to give our educators a permanent raise and provide our schools with the funding needed to properly educate our children.

Student Mental Health:

Student mental health was at a crisis point and has been exacerbated by the stresses of COVID-19. That’s why we appropriated an additional $250 million for student mental health and well-being. It’s crucial to meet children where they are and provide a support network for them through childhood and into early adulthood. With this funding, schools will be able to ensure students with mental health needs can be identified and provided with appropriate numbers of counselors, more school psychologists, and more school-based health centers. 

Since my time in the House, I’ve been fighting for adequate and accessible mental health services in our schools.  I’m incredibly proud that both sides of the aisle were able to come together on this critical need.

School Consolidation Funding:

One piece of funding that I am excited about is the $475 million set aside for the creation of a school infrastructure and consolidation fund. I’m excited about this because I’m hopeful some of this funding will help Ypsilanti Community Schools pay off the debt it acquired when it grew from the merger of Ypsilanti and Willow Run. By paying down this debt, Ypsilanti Schools will have more money to build or refurbish classrooms, labs and libraries, and improve student outcomes.


COVID-19 RESOURCES

General Vaccination Info

The Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) has an ongoing vaccination site located at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti.

Schedule an appointment here. If you need help scheduling, call us at 734-544-6700.

Walk-ins without an appointment are accepted during clinic hours: Monday-Friday from 9:00-11:30 a.m. and 1:00-3:30 p.m.

Free, door-to-door, accessible, round-trip transportation to any COVID-19 vaccination site in Washtenaw County is available through the Vaccinate Washtenaw Program. 

This program is open to any person of any age in Washtenaw County. Rides are booked through the AARP Ride@50+ Program. Call 844-900-4892 and use the code “Vaccinate Washtenaw.” If the call center is busy, you can also call 734-773-0907 to schedule a ride.

Please check the WCHD website for more info about additional doses for immunocompromised people.

Booster Shots

The Washtenaw County Health Department is offering Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson booster doses at their clinic at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti. They ask that you please bring your vaccination card and identification, if possible. 

COVID Testing

Lynx XD has drive-thru saliva PCR testing sites in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Pre-registration is required at both sites. Once you pre-register, you will be directed to schedule a time/date for your test.

For additional testing sites across Washtenaw County, and our state, visit the WCHD’s website.


ENERGY BILL ASSISTANCE AND SHUTOFF PROTECTION

We have numerous utility shutoff protection programs and programs that will help you afford your utility bills during the winter. These programs range from bill payment assistance to assistance winterizing your home. Check out our list of these programs here.

As an elected representative, I believe in being readily available and transparent because my office is your office.

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