Pritzker administration announces $42 million program to cover water bills

Gov. JB Pritzker announced a new $42 million program Tuesday to help low-income households pay...
Gov. JB Pritzker announced a new $42 million program Tuesday to help low-income households pay water and sewage bills.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 7:22 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a new $42 million program Tuesday to help low-income households pay water and sewage bills.

The administration hopes the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program can prevent utility shutoffs for those already struggling. Pritzker explained that nearly 20% of households are paying late fees and 5% had their water shut off or are in danger of it happening soon.

“Residents deserve the dignity and the safety that comes with having a roof over their heads, with the lights on and the water running. And here in Illinois, we continue to support our most vulnerable,” Pritzker said.

Funding for the water assistance program comes from the American Rescue Plan and the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Illinois lawmakers also authorized the program in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

“This program is emergency assistance focused on reducing disconnection,” said Sylvia Garcia, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “So this is for folks who are facing the threat of imminent disconnection or have already been disconnected or have $250 in overdue bills for water or wastewater services.”

The new program adds to the Pritzker administration’s $327 million in emergency assistance for people struggling with energy bills and the community services block grant program. Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton said this has helped avoid 112,000 utility disconnections across Illinois.

“Equity has been right at the center of all of these efforts so that more low-income families, including those that are undocumented, can access this critical aid,” Stratton said. “As today shows, we’re still working tirelessly on behalf of all of Illinois.”

Families must prove they are within 200% of the federal poverty line to be eligible for the assistance. You can fill out a request for service form by clicking here. People can also contact the hotline service for assistance at 1-833-711-0374.

Legislators also approved two plans this year to allow permanent state-funded water assistance programs in the future. Those programs will also provide families relief on arrearages and prevent more families from facing utility shutoffs.

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