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WEL Coalition Pushes the MI House for Strongest Possible Water Affordability Program

Updated: Feb 1

On Thursday, October 26th, 2023, the Michigan House Committee of Natural Resources, Environment, and Outdoor Recreation met to discuss a package of bills related to water assistance championed by Senator Stephanie Chang (D) and sponsored in the House by Abraham Aiyash (D) and Donovan McKinney (D). The WEL Coalition was front and center during this committee meeting. We are proud to say that many of our coalition members testified and proposed amendments to strenghtenthe bill package aiming to ensure true water affordability willbe achieved for Michiganders.

House Bills 5088, 5090, and 5091 aim at assisting low income customers in the state who fall below the 200% federal poverty line. Although we view this bill package as a positive step, we believe that with the incorporation of a few amendments, the program can transition from merely being another assistance plan to becoming a genuine water affordability program.

According to Monica Lewis-Patrick, CEO of We the People of Detroit and WEL Coalition founding member, “I’m impressed by some aspects of the bill but I believe the program can be strengthened to ensure our most vulnerable residents don’t fall through the cracks.”

Ann Baughman, Deputy Director of Freshwater Future, also a founding member of the WEL Coalition, provided testimony. She expressed that the amendments proposed by thecoalition would significanlty improve the situation of families of her hometown in Cheboygan County. “I am neutral to the current bill as I do think it takes a step forward in providing an assistance program to low-income families, but I also know these families need more.”

As it stands, the WEL Coalition respectfully requests 4 amendments be incorporated to make this bill package as strong as possible. These amendments are:

  1. End Shutoffs for Low Income Families

  2. Expand Tenant Protections to Existing Renters

  3. Decouple Funding- In doing this, we ensure that if LIHWAP funds run out, utilities must look for an alternate funding source to continue the program so that low income residents are protected.

  4. Debt Forgiveness- Many customers face high arrearages. Without addressing this issue, we are setting up thousands of customers to fail.

To watch the hearing in its entirety, please visit the House Video Archives. Be sure to watch the testimonies given by WELoalition members, details are listed below:

1:05:09- WPD Founders (Cecily McClellan, Debra Taylor, and Monica Lewis-Patrick)

2:55:31- Nkenge Browner

2: 59:09- Kristy Meyer

3:02:43- Gwendolyn Howard

3:09:53- Ann BaughMan

3:22:28- Theresa Landrum

Want to be a part of the solution? Visit to learn more about the Water Equals Life Coalition and the Water Affordability Platform. Together, we can make a difference and ensure clean, safe, and affordable water for all.

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