Heating Assistance Loan Program unveiled
A group of legislators introduced legislation this week to create a heating assistance loan guarantee program in order to alleviate the financial burden the propane crisis has placed on Wisconsin residents. The bill will help middle-class homeowners acquire low-interest loans, guaranteed in part by the state, to purchase propane and other heating supplies.
“Thousands of people across our state understandably did not budget for this crisis and do not have enough money to pay their heating bills. While assistance is currently available for low income individuals, this bill will help ensure those in the middle class are also able to pay their propane bills and heating expenses,” said Rep. Mary Czaja (R-Irma).
In January, Governor Walker declared a state of emergency due to the propane shortage and established a $3 million loan guarantee program, administered through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) which has provided propane dealers with financing so they can quickly purchase and distribute propane to those in need. Assembly Bill 770 works by targeting assistance at consumers that don’t qualify for low income assistance through the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP).
Homeowners will be able to acquire low-interest loans to purchase propane or other heating supplies that are approved by (WHEDA). Similar to the drought assistance program that currently exists, WHEDA will guarantee the loans and pay a portion of the interest rate charged. The loans cannot exceed $2,500 and to be eligible a borrower’s household income cannot exceed 200 percent of the median family income in the county in which they reside.
“Not only have people had difficulty getting propane, they also do not have the resources to pay their heating bills due to the unexpected jump in price we have seen,” commented Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst). “Creating a loan guarantee program will help people get approved for loans in order to pay their bills on time and avoid high interest charges and penalties.”
Assembly Bill 770 was introduced on Monday and has been referred to the Joint Committee on Finance. The legislation is authored by the following legislators: Senators Tiffany, Petrowski, Darling, Harsdorf and Representatives Nygren, Czaja, Bernier, Marklein, Mursau, Murtha, Kulp, Krug, Nerison, Petryk, Swearingen, Tranel.