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published on July 27, 2022 - 1:46 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

A new program of the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission (EOC) will help people in Fresno County pay overdue water bills. 

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program will help households in danger of losing water services, and in turn ensure families have access to safe drinking water and wastewater services, according to a news release. Assistance will go toward paying water bills accumulated before and during the pandemic.

Established by Congress in December 2020, the federally f​unded program helps low-income households pay down their outstanding residential water or wastewater bills. The State of California, through its Department of Community Services and Development, has allocated a total of $116 million statewide for the program. Fresno EOC will have $2,273,072 to distribute for direct water assistance, helping approximately 1,200 to 3,000 low-income households.

“With rising prices on everything from food to fuel, low income households in rural and urban Fresno County face barriers in paying their water and sewer (wastewater) bills. We want to help with that expense, so households can continue to purchase food and cover unexpected costs,” said Gilda Arreguin, director of the Low-Income Housing Water Assistance Program.

The maximum benefit amount is $2,000 and comes as a one-time payment that will be directly applied to the homeowner’s utility bill. The money will act as a credit to the client’s account.

According to data collected by the State Water Resources Control Board, around half a million Californians experienced water shutoffs in 2019 due to nonpayment, and hundreds of water providers charge rates that could be classified as unaffordable for low income households.

Households have until August 2023, or until money runs out, to apply and benefits will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Eligibility requirements for households include:

  • — Meets the definition of being low income
  •  
  • — Have a past due balance on their bill, also known as an arrearage
  •  
  • — Applicants must provide a water bill, wastewater bill, or property tax statement with a past due amount.
  •  
  • — Be enrolled in direct pay. Payments will go directly to owners and operators of water systems and cannot be paid to customers.
  •  
  • — Subscribe to a community water or wastewater treatment system. Those with private water wells and septic tanks are not eligible for assistance.

 

Participating water systems within Fresno County include:

 

  • — Bakman Water Company
  •  
  • — California Water Service
  •  
  • — City of Clovis
  •  
  • — City of Dos Palos
  •  
  • —  City of Kerman
  •  
  • — City of Kingsburg
  •  
  • — City of Mendota
  •  
  • — City of Parlier
  •  
  • — City of Sanger
  •  
  • — Coalinga – City
  •  
  • — Del Rey Community Services District
  •  
  • — Laton Community Services District
  •  
  • — City of Fresno
  •  

The program is now accepting applications, and eligibility requirements are listed on the website. Surrounding counties can watch for availability of the program to their areas at csd.ca.gov/lihwap.


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