For the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Philadelphia residents who owe at least $1,000 in water bills may have their service shutoff Monday.
The Philadelphia Water Department is encouraging customers with overdue bills to make payment arrangements or apply for payment assistance.
“We have programs that can not only help you avoid getting shut off this month but will also make your bill more affordable every month,” PWD Commissioner Randy E. Hayman said last week.
Customers who need help applying for programs that offer assistance with the costs of water bills can attend online clinics that will be held each Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from July 20 through Oct. 26.
Eligible customers can receive up to $5,000 in grant funding to cover unpaid bills through the Tiered Assistance Program. To be eligible, customers must meet income requirements or provide proof of a special hardship, such as a job loss, serious illness or injury that resulted in a hospital stay, birth of a child, death of a primary income earner, admission to a shelter due to abuse, or high household expenses.
Seniors who are enrolled in the Senior Citizen Discount program also are exempt from shutoffs. The program offers seniors ages 65 and older a 25% discount if their total household incomes are $32,300 or less.
Customers who apply for assistance receive a 14-day grace period for applicants. The city guarantees their water will not be shut off while their applications are being processed.
Additionally, residents will receive an exemption if the city matches their information to enrollment data from other low-income assistance programs.
Customers can apply for assistance by completing an online application or calling (215) 685-6300. Applications also can be completed and submitted at the Municipal Services Building at 1401 JFK Blvd. on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. In-person help filling out the applications is available at 20 locations in the city.
The water department also has payment arrangement options for customers who can’t afford the full amounts of their bills, or have large bills.
The end of the city’s two-year moratorium on water service shutoffs was announced in May.
Hayman said PWD had a dire financial need to collect unpaid bills due to increased costs for treatment chemicals and fuel. But the city increased the delinquency amount that would trigger a shutoff from $150 to $1,000 and exempted customers enrolled in the Tiered Assistance Program and the Senior Citizen Discount program.
At least 111,000 households have benefitted from these protections, city officials said.