State launches water aid program | News, Sports, Jobs

Families in difficulty at risk of having their water cut off due to non-payment have a new relief channel.

Funded by the American Rescue Plan, the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program offers grants to pay overdue water and sewer bills.

Financially eligible families can receive a crisis grant of up to $ 2,500 to pay water bills and a crisis grant of up to $ 2,500 to pay sewer bills, according to the state Department of Health website.

The temporary program started receiving applications on Monday via; through paper applications downloaded from the Compass website; by phone through the statewide Customer Service Center at 877-395-8930; and in person at the county assistance office.

Applicants must indicate the number of people in their household and dates of birth, social security numbers and proof of income for all household members; and must provide a recent water bill, according to the website.

The income limits are $ 19,320 for a one-person household; $ 26,130 for a household of two; $ 32,940 for a household of three; $ 39,750 for a four-person household – with an additional $ 6,810 for each additional household member.

The program pays utilities directly.

The Altoona Water Authority has signed up, according to billing manager Ron Becher.

“Anytime there is another option for customers where they can get help, everyone benefits. “ said Bécher. “We can refer our clients who have bad debts.”

The authority is already referring these clients to agencies such as Blair Senior Services, The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, while also advising them to call the PA211 social services helpline, Becher said.

The authority sends between 1,300 and 1,500 closure notices per month to customers whose invoices have been overdue for two months.

Most are residential customers, he said.

“We do not close them all” said Bécher. “Some people wait until they have (the reviews before paying), I guess.”

Still, authority workers typically go out three days a week on downtime and often average between 20 and 30 stops a day on those days, Becher said.

Snow and staff issues can cause delays in closing, Becher said.

There is a reconnection fee of $ 105.

The authority has 23,000 water customers and 20,000 sewer customers, Becher said.

Mirror staff writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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