Who needs a new furnace? $3.8M Saginaw home rehabilitation program heats up

SAGINAW, MI — Next month, lower-income Saginaw residents can apply to replace or add furnaces to their homes using $3.8 million of Saginaw’s $52 million in American Rescue Plan Act stimulus funds.

The benefit represents the first part of a three-phase program aimed at supporting owner-occupied housing rehabilitation in the city. Over the next year, officials will accept applications to replace roofs and window units at homes too.

Yolanda Bland (formerly Yolanda Jones), the director of office of management and budget and community services at Saginaw City Hall, said officials expect to fund furnace replacements from late December to late February 2023.

Only qualified applicants will benefit from the initiative. To qualify, applicants must reside in the city, must be able to prove at least one year of residency at the home, and must fall below income levels outlined by American Rescue Plan Act guidelines.

“As you come in with your documentation (proving residency), you also come in with documentation of your income,” Bland said.

Applicants also must not be in debt on water bills or property taxes, she said.

Residents can apply in-person for furnace replacements during two Saturdays, Dec. 3-Dec. 10, at Saginaw City Hall, 1315 S. Washington.

“We will be right here, in council chambers (on the second floor), taking applications,” Bland said.

There will be other opportunities to apply. Residents can call or email to schedule an in-person appointment at City Hall for replacing their furnaces for times and dates that include 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday, Dec. 5-9. They can schedule the appointment by calling City Hall at 989-577-0184 or emailing arpaservice@saginaw-mi.com, Bland said.

A team of City Hall staff members will serve as the committee responsible for determining which applicants receive the housing rehabilitation benefits, Bland said.

Saginaw City Manager Tim Morales said he anticipates high interest in replacing furnaces. The limited funding and potentially large demand likely would mean the selection team will not provide the benefit to every eligible applicant.

Jones said the selection team planned to favor residents in the lowest income brackets.

Jones said City Hall officials plan to spend about $1 million on the furnace phase of the program, $1.5 million on the roof phase scheduled for spring 2023, and $1.3 million on the window phase planned from spring to summer 2023.

Some details of the housing rehabilitation program remain unresolved. At present, city officials plan to restrict the program so that applicants can only seek funds for a furnace, a roof or windows.

However, council members during a Monday, Nov. 21, meeting debated whether or not to direct city staff to loosen that restriction, allowing residents to apply for two or all three options. No decision was made to change the restriction, and officials tabled the matter for now.

“You could spend a large amount of money on a few people or try to help as many people as possible,” Morales told the council.

The council in September approved the $3.8 million housing rehabilitation program.

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