The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is extending its Emergency Residential Community Assistance Program, which is designed to help residential customers struggling to pay their water, sewer and Hetch Hetchy power bills during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the press release. The program, which launched in May, was originally set to expire, but will now be expanded through the end of the year, as the global pandemic continues to impact San Francisco.
“We all want to see the end of this pandemic, but the truth is, we don’t know when things will return to a sense of normalcy,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “With that in mind, we need to extend our financial assistance programs that help our families and residents. We have already seen thousands of families embrace this program and we know there are still more out there that could use our help. We want our customers to know that we are there for them during these difficult times.”
Residential customers who have been financially impacted as a result of COVID-19 or the shelter-in-place order and had a pre-pandemic maximum household income under 200% of the San Francisco Area Median Income are eligible to apply for the program. The emergency program’s expanded income thresholds will make many more residents eligible for a discount on their SFPUC utility bills through the end of 2020.
The following reduced rates will be available:
- 35% off sewer bills;
- 30% off Hetch Hetchy power bills; and
- 15% off water bills
To enroll in the program, eligible customers can complete an online application form here. Existing participants will be automatically enrolled into the extended residential assistance program.
Since the program launched in May, more than 6,000 customers have benefited from the initiative. Those customers have saved a monthly average of $53 on their water and sewer bills, and $15 on their Hetch Hetchy power bills.
To qualify for the program, residential customers must demonstrate the following:
- Be a residential customer seeking a discount for your primary residence, with an SFPUC account serving only your dwelling unit under your own name; and
- Have experienced a loss of income related to COVID-19 or the shelter-in-place order and be experiencing financial hardship and difficulty paying your water and sewer and/or Hetch Hetchy power bills.
The Emergency Residential Community Assistance Program extension for residents is just one of several efforts the SFPUC is embarking on to assist the community during the global pandemic. Earlier this summer, the SFPUC launched a new Commercial Emergency Bill Relief Program that provides 20% discounts off of water and sewer bills for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
The SFPUC also started a program to offer customers who enroll in either the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) or the Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) program a one-time $50 credit from CleanPowerSF on their October electricity bill. Customers can learn more about available bill relief programs at sfwater.org/billrelief.
The agency has also suspended water and power shut offs due to late payments, postponed liens and collections, waived late fees, and provided rental payment deferments for tenants of our facilities. As always, payment programs are available for customers who need more flexibility paying their utility bills. Additionally, the SFPUC partnered with its private contracting firms to support more than 45 small businesses in the Bayview with $150,000 in grant funding.
The SFPUC already offers discounted rates to customers whose income makes them eligible under federal guidelines through its Community Assistance Programs (CAP). The agency is working to proactively reach out to customers who may qualify for these longer-term savings programs that won’t expire, in addition to temporary bill relief programs, according to the press release.