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DC Water Will Offer Unique Assistance Program to Benefit Customers who Rent

Thursday, February 4, 2021
DC Water becomes first utility in the District to help residents even if they aren’t account holders


February 4, 2021 – DC Water’s Board of Directors this morning approved two new programs to help customers, including one creative option that will assist customers who rent homes in multi-family buildings. 

The twin efforts, which go into effect Feb 8, come as the board and Chief Executive Officer David L. Gadis continue exploring ways to help customers who are struggling as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic that has thrown so many people out of work and created economic instability. 

“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 during these trying times,” Mr. Gadis said. “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.” 

The two assistance programs build on the strong record that DC Water has had over the years for assisting customers in need and take effect immediately. 

The most cutting-edge program is the new assistance set aside for people who rent in multi-family buildings, like apartments or low-income condominium associations. Because their water charges are part of their rent, or HOA dues ,they’ve never been able to receive a discount from DC Water. 

But under the new program, DC Water will provide discounts to owners to pass along to those tenants whose incomes qualifies them for the help. Applying is easy. Once the owner signs up to participate in 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. If you don’t currently receive assistance, starting in April you can apply with the Department of Energy and Environment. 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 second program is intended to supplement assistance for customers who have fallen behind on their bills. It provides up to $2,000 in assistance to help a customer eliminate their past due balance, provided they are income eligible. Details on eligibility and application for both programs will be posted on the DC Water website. 

“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, who also serves as Director of DOEE. 

In a separate vote, the board also authorized a program to expand the Backwater Valve Reimbursement Program to a much larger swath of the city. 

Historically, DC Water has reimbursed customers for the cost of installing the valves only if they live in certain portion of the city unusually prone to flooding. But with today’s vote, the board is expanding the eligibility of the program, allowing it to reach many more individuals. The decision grew out of the severe east coast flooding that impacted many cities on September 10th, backing up sewage into the basements of more than 300 District residents.