AUSTIN, Texas - As the city of Austin continues to battle COVID-19, more and more people continue to struggle to pay utility bills.
Austin Energy officials say they have had to help thousands of customers stay afloat and there is no sign of things slowing down yet.
The city has given out close to $2 million in utility bill help since the pandemic began and Austin Energy has helped more than 5,000 customers since April.
"More and more customers are struggling to pay the bills because of job loss or illness," Austin Energy spokesperson Luis Rivas said. "As of April, we are not disconnecting utility services for our customers. Families right now might be struggling to pay utility bills and we just want to be mindful of that."
Businesses are even encouraged to call for assistance. "We do have some programs available so we do encourage any business or small business to give us a call and we can always work with the customers," Rivas said.
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Austin Energy is not getting the steady stream of payments it was used to pre-pandemic, but Rivas says it isn't too much of a concern as of right now. He does say that residential usage has gone up by around 10 percent.
"More residents are staying home right now, they are consuming more electricity, they are having to cook more at the house," Rivas said.
Certain conditions must be met to receive help, but Rivas encourages all who might benefit from this program to call Austin Energy or apply for help online.
"We still have funds available so if there are any customers that would like to sign up for a program or get any financial assistance give us a call," Rivas said.
To get help, click here.
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