DC Water launches program to provide relief for renters

If you are running behind on your water bill in D.C., you may be able to get assistance — even if you don’t typically pay your water bill directly.

The first program under “DC Water Cares” aims to help low-income renters whose water bills are reflected in their monthly rent.

In the past, low-income renters could not get relief because their bill was often tied to rent. But through the new program, DC Water will provide discounts to landlords who would then pass along at least 90% of that to qualifying tenants’ rent.

Once the owner of the building signs up for the program, tenants who receive assistance through the Department of Human Services, Department of Energy and Environment or live in an affordable housing unit will automatically qualify. People living in apartments can also apply if their income level is 80% of D.C.’s area median income.

“We know that people in the District are hurting and we need to explore every option we have to assist those who are going through these trying times,” said CEO David L. Gadis in a statement. “I believe that we’re taking a big step forward towards that goal with these actions today, allowing us to provide assistance to renters, a group of people who don’t directly pay water bills but who are nevertheless struggling.”

DC Water has allocated $7 million of the $15 Million Fiscal Year 2020 cash surplus to establish the program.

It is one of a few programs in the nation designed to aid customers who do not pay their water and sewer bills directly.

The utility also launched a new program that will help customers that pay D.C. water directly and have fallen behind on their bills.

The utility will give up to $2,000 for past bills for customers that are at 80% of the District’s area median income.

“Thousands of District residents have had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic. These new programs at DC Water will go a long way towards helping people in the District who are struggling the most,” said Board Chairman Tommy Wells.

$3 million has been allocated from the District’s Emergency Residential Program to cover these payments.

Both programs will run until at least Sept. 30 of this year.

Contact DC Water to check your eligibility and apply.

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