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5 Tips on Managing Utility Bills during the COVID-19 Crisis

5 Tips on Managing Utility Bills during the COVID-19 Crisis

The Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm has created a tip sheet on how to seek help if you are in need of assistance to keep your bills paid, your lights on, and your house warm. There are resources out there for you if you have hit difficult times during the coronavirus pandemic. Visit the coalition’s website at


Find a Program to Help You with Your Energy Bill during Quarantine

The Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm has highlighted programs currently in operation to help you with your energy bills during the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order.

From tips to save on energy or how to get things on track if your bill is not affordable, these flyers provide information on how to help you navigate your utility bills while we are all changing the way we conduct our business. Make sure to look into how you could contact your utility service or apply for the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP).

City of Detroit Coronavirus Updates

The City of Detroit Health Department and Department of Neighborhoods are hosting updates on the work being done to address the coronavirus locally.

These updates can be accessed via telephone by dialing the number and entering the meeting ID, followed by pressing #. See below to find out when your neighborhood’s update will be taking place!

Make sure to note that there are specific calls to each district. Call in to get an update from your local government about your neighborhood and the coronavirus.

As always, stay safe and stay healthy!

Asthma vs. Coronavirus: Know the Difference

With seasonal allergies beginning, we face a challenging time due to similar symptoms displayed by COVID-19. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) highlights the key differences so you can know whether you need to refer to your Asthma Action Plan or contact your healthcare provider for more urgent assistance. Below is a chart from AAFA that shows various symptoms of COVID-19, the common cold, the flu, and seasonal allergies:

Some key tips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you have asthma:

  1. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time
  2. Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  4. Take asthma medications daily to keep asthma under control
  5. Practice social distancing: Staying 6 feet apart when you are near people and only leave your home for essential travel (work, healthcare, and groceries)


For more information on COVID-19 and asthma, please visit AAFA!

Lead-U-Cation with Brick+Beam

We are excited to talk about the scope of lead hazards in Detroit’s housing stock at Lead-U-Cation!


Hosted by Brick + Beam Detroit, the panel discussion will be on Thursday February 27th, starting at 5:30pm and held at Holding House Detroit, 3546 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216.


Tickets are just $5 for Detroiters and $8 for Metro-Detroiters and includes dinner from Rocky’s Road Tacos!


National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

As we wrap up National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, it’s incredibly important to understand that our homes can affect our health and safety. Particularly in older communities like ours, we find that building components contain toxic materials like lead. To finish off our highlights on lead poisoning prevention, we are sharing best practices on how to keep your family safe:

  • Get your child test for lead! Start at nine months with their doctor, then retest each year until age six.
  • Wash children’s hands, toys, bottles, and pacifiers often.
  • Include a diet for your family rich in calcium and iron while avoiding fatty and sugary foods.
  • Wet clean weekly by mopping floors, and spraying/wiping window sills, window wells, and baseboards.
  • Do not let children play in bare dirt, near windows, or on porches with old paint.
  • Take your shoes off at the door to prevent tracking lead dust in from outside.
  • Only use cold tap water to cook or to make baby formula. Flush your pipes in the morning before you drink the water. Water standing in pipes for several hours can contain lead.
  • When repairing or remodeling your home, do not let children near work areas. Clean thoroughly and work lead safe!
  • Make sure that anyone who works in construction or auto repair changes their clothes and showers before greeting or holding children. Separate dirty work clothes from other laundry.

For more information, go to the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention page from the CDC or refer to our Lead Poisoning 101 Book!

Lead Poisoning Awareness Month

In October, we raise awareness for lead poisoned children in our community and how we can prevent future contact with lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned the sale and use of lead-based paint in homes. Many of our communities have an aging housing stock with deteriorating conditions, creating hazards where children encounter lead-based paint. Sources can be found in the paint on walls, porches, door frames, windows, windowsills, and many other aging painted components of homes. Lead dust is created from deteriorating paint, which can settle onto floors, children’s toys, and other items around the home. The only way to know for sure where and how much lead-based paint in a home is through a Lead Inspection Risk Assessment from a certified inspector. If a presence of lead is found in the home, it is important to have your child’s blood lead level tested. Acting promptly after learning of a lead presence in your home or in your child is the best way to address the problem! Children with lead poisoning can develop brain and nervous system damage, learning and behavior problems, slow growth and development, and hearing and speech problems. Hiring a certified lead abatement contractor and contacting your local health department about lead abatement programs for income-qualified families can start you on the path to having a lead-safe home.

For more information on local programs, you can contact the Detroit Health Department Lead Program online or call at: (313) 876-0133


Lead levels drop in Michigan kids after Flint spike. But so does testing.

This article highlights an important notion – that it is always important to investigate studies. Even though the number of children with elevated lead levels has decreased, testing has also dropped. With a smaller number of people having their children tested, there are cases of unidentified lead poisoning that do not get entered into this count.

With an aging housing stock, it’s more important than ever to have your child tested for elevated blood lead levels. If your house was built before 1978, there is a possibility that lead hazards exist in your home. Taking preventative steps can ensure the health of your child and create a healthy environment in your home.

To read the full article published by Bridge Magazine, click here.

Detroit issues more than 1,000 tickets to landlords amid rental property crackdown

According to an article by Kurt Nagl at Crain’s Detroit, the City of Detroit has issued more than 1,000 code violation tickets in the 48215 zip code as part of city’s push to bring rental properties into compliance. Some properties received two tickets – one for code non compliance and one for improper lead abatements.

The city is looking to bring the condition of housing stock to a higher standard and ensure that homes will be safe and healthy environments for families looking to rent. This is a valiant effort by the city to improve the rate of compliance. For example, 52 of the approximately 500 landlords in the 48215 zip code are compliant this year – tripling last year’s number of 17 compliant landlords in the area.

However, this is only the crust of task being faced by the Building Safety Engineering and Environmental Department at the City of Detroit. “Of more than 60,000 rental properties in the city, only around 800 are compliant” says department Director Dave Bell. While there are many strides left to be taken, the city pushes on towards bringing rental properties into compliance.

In addition to the crackdown on noncompliance, the city is offering tenants in the current enforcement zip codes an opportunity to escrow their rent money until their rental property receives a certificate of compliance. Managed by PNC Bank, the city has installed 45 DivDat kiosks for renters to submit their rent into escrow. The kiosks also provide means to pay taxes and water, sewage, and energy bills. Landlords can recover the rent in escrow if the certificate of compliance is obtained within 90 days of the escrow account opening. If the certificate is not granted within that time-frame, then the renter is repaid their rent.


Click here to read the full article

Detroit landlords ignoring rental inspection rules, city says

The Building Safety Engineering & Environmental Department of the City of Detroit is making a push to get more rental properties into compliance with city code and lead ordinances. Despite a low rate of properties coming into compliance so far, we applaud the city for this effort and look forward to working with property owners to make their rentals lead-free. The Detroit News has a great update on progress so far and what is to come next. To read the entire article, please click here.