Posted October 7, 2021
The $70 billion state budget, signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday, includes funding that will make homes safer and healthier for Michiganders.
Residents will soon have better opportunities to get lead out of their homes, regulate household temperature and keep PFAS and other chemicals out of their faucets.
“The Michigan Environmental Council would like to thank lawmakers and Gov. Whitmer for prioritizing residents' health,” said Tina Reynolds, program director for environmental health at the Michigan Environmental Council. “We spend more than 80% of our time indoors. The safety of our homes is a critical part of a healthy environment.”
The budget allocates $10 million to the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund, which provides low-interest loans to homeowners and landlords alike to remove hazardous lead. Typical lead abatement needs include replacing windows, doors, or front porches, and the costs can exceed $10,000—making these essential repairs out of reach for many Michigan residents. The Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund works with foundations and lending institutions to provide accessible, low-interest loans for families to make their homes lead safe, protecting Michigan’s children.
“Michigan needs healthy, active kids, and these dollars help families provide safe indoor environments for their development,” said Reynolds. “Money should not be a barrier to your child's health.”
The budget also includes $5 million for the Minor Home Repair Fund, which provides critical dollars that can be used by local agencies to help Michigan residents with minor home repairs that may otherwise prevent them from participating in Michigan’s weatherization assistance program. Weatherization improves the quality of life of Michiganders by ensuring homes are draft-free in the winter and cool in the summer, and help lower utility bills.
But typical repairs needed in many older homes across the state can block eligible families from participating. The Minor Home Repair Fund supports the hiring of local workers in local communities to fix water leaks, replace roofs, repair dangerous old wiring, and more, making homes safer for families and eligible for additional weatherization assistance.
Habitat for Humanity was a critical partner of the Environmental Council in ensuring funding for the Minor Home Repair Fund was included in the state’s budget.
“Habitat for Humanity construction crews are ready and committed to scaling up our home repair program to build toward a future where every Michigan resident has access to a quality home in which to live, learn, work, and thrive,” said Sandy Pearson, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Michigan. “We want to thank the Governor and all who support this program to further our ability to correct home health and safety issues in partnership with homeowners who fell on challenging times. Owning homes, keeping people in their homes, and adding to supply must be recognized for their long-term benefits to jobs, communities, and lives.”
Other funding the Environmental Council and allies advocated for that made the budget includes $24.45 million for PFAS and contaminated site cleanups; $25 million to help keep farm pollution out of Lake Erie and its basin; and $1.5 million for Michigan Saves, which helps people finance clean energy upgrades.
“When we invest in the environment around us, we invest in peoples’ health. Our new budget does just that,” said Conan Smith, President & CEO of the Michigan Environmental Council. “It protects Michiganders by fortifying homes against climate change; by removing lead from our walls; and by keeping manure, PFAS and other contaminants out of our drinking water. Together, these investments provide a solid grounding for even bolder future actions.”
Smith and Reynolds noted, though, that the budget did not take on the full funding amounts the Environmental Council advocated for, nor does it solve all of Michigan's most pressing environmental, health and justice problems. Instead, it serves as a good step forward as the Legislature prepares to determine how billions of dollars in federal COVID money should be spent.
Senate Bill 82, the state’s full budget measure, can be found here.
By Morgan Butts, Marketing & Communications Director, Michigan Environmental Council