Los Angeles DWP to end water and power shutoffs for low-income customers who can’t pay?
The Los Angeles water and power boards are planning to implement a $500-per-month credit for people to pay their bills, and possibly other services, including trash pick-up and rent payments, that would relieve a number of customers who would otherwise have been subject to shutoffs. But the city and Los Angeles County have not decided yet whether customers with incomes below the federal poverty level should be eligible, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In 2009, the California Public Utilities Commission recommended that the water and power boards consider ending water shutoffs for customers with incomes below 400% of the federal poverty level, but did not rule on the credit, which would be a far more substantial reduction of rates for those customers.
The water board is also planning to implement a $400-per-month program to help customers with utility bills who struggle to pay. They would be eligible for this one-time, lump-sum payment for up to six months, while they are in dire need of cash assistance. The program could also be extended indefinitely.
The water and power boards have said that they do not have adequate cash resources to make this kind of payment, and that any other program would be at their discretion.
The water board would also like to create a new customer assistance program to help customers at the very lowest levels of income, and are looking to begin that effort with a pilot program at one of its customer assistance centers, LA Times reports.
Both of the programs are intended to work as part of the system-wide effort to reduce water and power shutoffs. This effort, first launched when a water shutoff of $50 was implemented in the fall of 2009, has also included other measures, such as reducing the number of power shutoffs for customers with overdue bills by 30% after just two months.
The water board also plans to conduct a trial program to distribute funds from the city and Los Angeles County’s General Fund to customers who have had their bills unpaid for more than 90 days, but the city has yet to decide how to do this.
The water board also plans to extend its pilot program at its customer assistance centers to provide more assistance to low- and moderate-income customers who often have very low