AUSTIN, Texas - More and more Austinites are struggling to pay utility bills due to job loss, illness, or other issues due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The City of Austin Utilities wants customers to know that funding is still available to help customers in need and who may be struggling.
“The City of Austin is committed to helping as many customers as we can who have been affected by the economic consequences of this pandemic,” said Kerry Overton, Austin Energy Deputy General Manager, Chief Customer & Compliance Officer in a news release. “We want customers who are struggling with their utility bills to contact us so we can work with them to find solutions.”
To date, COA Utilities has provided $1.88 million in financial help to more than 5,100 residential customers since April.
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On April 9, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance allowing funding for utility bill assistance through the City’s Plus 1 Emergency Financial Support Program. The Plus 1 program provides immediate help to customers who are having financial difficulties and are unable to pay their utility bills due to unexpected emergencies – including COVID-19.
The Plus 1 program is not new. Since the beginning of the fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2019), the City of Austin has assisted more than 7,200 customers, distributing nearly $3 million to customers needing assistance. During the same time period in Fiscal Year 2019, more than 3,800 customers got utility bill assistance totaling more than $1.654 million through Plus 1.
Customers can easily apply for help with their utility bills and find more information in English and Spanish at austinbillhelp.com. City of Austin Utilities customers can also email email@example.com or call 512-765-9721 for additional guidance about the Plus 1 program.
In addition, the Plus 1 program works with a network of 56 nonprofit social services partners spread throughout the community. These local social service agencies screen applicants, determine eligibility, and arrange for funding.
The City of Austin also encourages any customer experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 to contact City of Austin Utilities at 512-494-9400 to discuss payment plan options, eligibility for other Customer Assistance Programs, and ways to reduce energy use and utility bills.
Plus 1 is just one way the Utility Bill Relief ordinance is helping utility customers struggling to pay their bills due to COVID-19. Read more about all the measures the City is taking to assist customers with the Utility Bill Help ordinance.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.