The San Francisco Utilities Board announced this week that it is launching a pilot program that offers up to 90% off water and sewer bills to eligible customers.
The program, the Community First Bill Relief Program, kicked off Monday and offers select customers the rebate for a period of six months.
In addition, a randomly selected group of these participants will also benefit from debt relief of up to $ 1,000 in arrears owed to the commission, if they are able to make six discounted payments on their monthly bill, commission officials said.
The program was launched to help customers who are struggling financially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and who cannot pay their utility bills on time.
Since March 2020, overdue accounts have increased by 250%. What’s more, since that time, the average balance of overdue individual accounts has increased 93%, or more than $ 1,000 in debt per household, officials said.
“This pandemic has completely turned the lives of our residents upside down, and we are seeing it in the growing number of clients who are racking up an unsustainable amount of utility debt,” SFPUC Acting Director General Michael Carlin said in a statement. communicated.
“We know our low-income residents have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, so we need to explore creative and data-driven relief programs to help our clients in these times of dire need,” he said. declared.
The program is made possible through a partnership between the commission and the City Treasurer’s Financial Justice Project and the Tax Collector’s Office.
“Too many families in San Francisco have been hit hard by COVID-19 and are struggling to get back on their feet,” Treasurer Jose Cisneros said. “Targeted debt relief isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”
The commission and the Financial Justice Project predict that the program will help clients get back on track with their bills.
The six-month pilot program is funded by philanthropic funds provided by the San Francisco Foundation.
You can find more information on other bill relief programs at www.sfpuc.org/billrelief.
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