Broke in Philly

Philly Unveils Protections for People Behind on Water Bills as Shutoffs Loom

“These policy changes are designed to focus enforcement on customers that can pay their bills while protecting vulnerable residents,” the mayor’s office said

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The City of Philadelphia is taking measures help to prevent residential water shutoffs as its moratorium on utilities shutoffs nears its end.

The shutoffs, which had been halted for the last two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, are set to restart July 18. The new protections are designed to keep the water flowing for people who can’t pay their bills.

In a press release, Mayor Jim Kenney’s office announce the following policy changes from the Philadelphia Water Department and the Water Revenue Bureau:

  • The level of delinquency that triggers a shutoff notice has been raised from $150 to $1,000.
  • Customers currently enrolled in the Tiered Assistance Program (TAP) are exempt from shutoff.
  •  Customers currently enrolled in the Senior Citizen Discount program are exempt from shutoff.
  • Customers who have applied for Customer Assistance are exempt from shutoff.
  • As an additional safeguard, the City will use internal data to match enrollment data from other low-income assistance programs and provide exemptions to those households.

“These policy changes are designed to focus enforcement on customers that can pay their bills while protecting vulnerable residents,” the mayor’s office said.

People can apply for assistance on the city website or by calling 215-685-6300. They can also print and submit applications in person at the Municipal Services Building at 1401 JFK Blvd.

There’s also a map showing people locations where they can get in-person help when filling in applications.

The city also pointed residents with past-due water bills to the state Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program, which may provide up to $5,000 to pay off delinquent bills.

The Pennsylvania Homeowners Assistance Fund[CR(1]  provides up to $8,000 in assistance for water, sewer and other bills.

Another option for Philly residents, the city said, is the Utilities Emergency Service Funds program.

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