The Philadelphia Water Department will pause water shutoffs through Sept. 30 and continue to offer residents facing coronavirus-related hardships discounted water rates.
The department first put shutoffs on hold in March when shutdowns across the region left a record number of people without work.
As the rates of infection have slowed and businesses in the region reopen, many of the programs helping struggling families have expired and the continued pause on water shutoffs could offer families some needed financial relief.
Still, the department warns families of letting past due bills accumulate and encourages families to apply for discounted water rates if they’d experienced a special hardship.
The discounts available through the Tiered Assistance Program are not limited to those who’ve lost work because of the pandemic. People who have seen their households grow, have experienced the loss of a household member, have had a household member fall ill or customers who have experienced domestic violence can also apply for discounted rates.
In addition to possible discounts, the program can make it so that overdue bills are removed from the collections process.
“Due to the number of customers in need, assistance is more flexible than ever,” the department said in a press release.
Customers who don’t qualify for discounts can still set up lengthy payment plans, which require small down payments, per the department.
But customers should be ready to wait. Discount applications take about two months to process and the department says to expect long wait times on the phone.
WHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.