Mayor Garcetti Announces Hundreds of Millions in Utility Debt Relief for Angelenos
[ Article originally appeared on www.calmatters.org ]
Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has issued $275 million in utility debt relief to 280,000 residential and commercial customers.
“For the past two years, debt has dragged down countless lives and livelihoods – and today, we’re proud to lift that burden for hundreds of thousands of families and business owners,” said Mayor Garcetti. “This relief is more than just a shot in the arm for those behind on their utility bills – it's a new set of doors to opportunity and a fresh start for Angelenos who have suffered financially because of the pandemic.”
The debt relief was provided first to the State of California from the American Rescue Plan Act passed by the Biden Administration last year. When Mayor Garcetti issued his Safer at Home Order in March 2020, he directed LADWP to enact a moratorium on utility shut-offs due to late payments. Since the beginning of the pandemic, LADWP has incurred $827 million in utility debt.
In February 2021, LADWP provided $33.7 million to 67,000 low-income customers in a one-time utility debt relief action funded through the CARES Act, which was disseminated through $500 direct checks to customers. The Mayor’s Office, LADWP, and the Bureau of Sanitation are continuing to advocate for additional utility relief at the State and Federal levels.
"We have to make sure that Angelenos know they have access to these crucial programs,” said Council President Nury Martinez. “To the families sitting around the kitchen table wondering if they’ll be able to make ends meet this month and all Angelenos who have worked hard to keep themselves afloat throughout this pandemic, through sickness and job loss, we want you to know that help is on the way."
"Since the onset of the pandemic, I have been a vocal advocate for financial assistance for Angelenos who have faced economic hardships due to COVID-19, including providing a utility subsidy at the local level," said Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, the City Council President Pro Tempore. "The Los Angeles City Council has worked tirelessly to help those in need, including enacting the nation's strongest eviction moratorium and largest municipal rental relief program. With this relief package, help is indeed on the way. Even as Los Angeles emerges from the pandemic, we must continue to assist those affected by COVID-19."
“The pandemic created such a swift and extreme financial hardship for many Californians that meeting basic needs like housing, food, electricity, and water all became uncertain in a matter of days,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “It brought about the kind of moment when the government could again demonstrate its fundamental purpose to protect and care for its citizens. I am proud of how we prevented water shut-offs through a statewide moratorium, and then came together at the federal, state and local levels to relieve about a half-million Californians statewide – including 80,000 households and businesses in the City of Los Angeles – of COVID-19 drinking water debt. And now we are working to get relief to those who still have wastewater debt.”
“Our goal is to provide the assistance and flexibility to ensure that every customer can manage their LADWP bill better and access assistance when they need it,” said Cynthia McClain-Hill, President of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. “This is the value of having a public utility. We exist because of, and for our customers and there really is no better time to demonstrate our commitment to them than when they need our help.“
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to carry out such a significant effort with the help of the State and continue to support Angelenos facing hardships resulting from the pandemic,” said Martin Adams, LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer. “In addition to the state funds credited to the accounts of eligible LADWP customers, we want to get the word out that there is still more help available including discount programs for income-eligible customers, rebates and flexible, extended payment arrangements. We want every customer who is still struggling to reach out to us for assistance.”
Customers can learn more about LADWP debt relief here.
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