Columbus to use CARES funds to offer utility assistance

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The city of Columbus is making additional funding from the 2020 federal Coronavirus, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act available for utility assistance grants to Columbus residents. These funds will be distributed to help families who have been unable to pay for utilities because of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Public Utilities’ CARES Act Assistance Program offers one-time payment aid of up to $750 toward an eligible Columbus water/sewer/stormwater bill, and/or up to $500 toward an eligible power bill. Residents who qualify can receive financial help for unpaid or overdue utility charges that are at a point of service disruption.

“We know that many residents are struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19, whether that be job loss or reduction in hours,” said Mayor Andrew Ginther. “Through CARES Act funding, we are working to help residents meet their basic needs for clean drinking water and electricity with one-time payments toward overdue utility bills.”

To be eligible for the assistance, applicants must have an active city of Columbus water, sewer or power account for their residence in their name (or spouse’s name), be at least 90 days delinquent in payment, and meet at least one of the following requirements:
• Household income less than 150 percent of the current U.S. Bureau of Census federal poverty level
• Currently enrolled in a qualifying low income program with Department of Utilities
• Proof of job loss or reduction in income due to the pandemic

Funding is limited and provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Bill payment assistance cannot exceed the total current balance on a customer account. Approved customers will receive a one-time credit on their account. This program does not apply to AEP accounts or those located outside of the city of Columbus.

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just a health crisis; it’s an economic one,” said councilman Rob Dorans. “These CARES Act dollars will literally help keep the lights on and make sure that families have access to water across central Ohio during the toughest months of the pandemic. I urge residents to take advantage of this assistance and encourage others you may know in need to access these funds to help soften the economic impact of this crisis.”

In addition to applying for this emergency bill assistance, customers with delinquent accounts are also encouraged to set up a payment plan to avoid potential shut offs in the future.

Details on these programs are available at www.columbus.gov/payassist. For questions, contact customer service at 614-645-8276 Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. or email BillAssist@columbus.gov.

 

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