SAN FRANCISCO— The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) extended a program that gives a discount on utility bills to eligible residents until the end of the year, according to an announcement they made on September 4.
The Emergency Residential Community Assistance Program was supposed to expire on Friday, September 4, but according to officials from the SFPUC as COVID-19 continues to impact San Francisco, they decided to extend the program until December in order to help families and residents from the city. People who qualify for the program may receive a 15 percent discount on water, 35 percent discount on sewer, and a 30 percent discount in Hetch Hetchy Power.
Residents can apply if they are experiencing financial hardships that intercede with the payment of their utility bills. They are eligible if they had a loss of income related to the pandemic which could be caused by layoffs, reduced hours or inability to work due to illness. They must also show that prior to COVID-19 they had a maximum household income under 200 percent of the San Francisco Area Median Income.
Residents who are interested need to fill out a form that can take about two weeks to be reviewed. If their application is approved, the discount will be applied to their next billing cycle.
“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. in the announcement. “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.”
According to Will Reisman, spokesman for the SFPUC, 6,300 people have applied to the emergency program since May. He told San Francisco News that customers are pleased with it.
“Based on the feedback we have received from our recipients, they are pleased with the program. The basic sentiment from our customers has been ‘anything that helps is appreciated at this time.’,” Reisman said.
SFPUC officials added that besides the financial assistance they are providing to residents, they are not shutting off water or power due to late payments , they are waiving late fees and they are offering flexible payment programs.