The Philadelphia Water Department said Monday that the shutoff moratorium on services for residential customers has been extended until April 2022. The extension will overlap with the department’s annual winter shutoff freeze that protects vulnerable customers from losing service between Dec. 1 through March 31.
Water service terminations have been banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic impact in an effort to provide relief to customers who have been financially-impacted by the public health crisis. The most-recent expiration date for the shutoff pause was set for April 1.
As stated by a Philly Voice report, customers who are signed up for either the Tiered Assistance Program or Senior Citizen Discount Program will not be the recipients of enforcement measures or penalized for overdue bills until April 2022, the Philadelphia Water Department said.
However, customers who are not enrolled in these financial assistance programs will begin to receive penalties for late bills starting May 1, according to the Department. Other enforcement measures, such as referrals to collection agencies, will take effect August 2.
You can read: Tom Wolf asks for $1 billion in food stamps money to cover school meals
Some non-residential accounts could face service shutoff enforcement measures starting this summer too, the Philadelphia Water Department said. Efforts to set up payment plans with those customers have already begun.
Any customer facing difficulties paying water bills is should explore options, such as applying for financial assistance or making payment agreements.
The Tiered Assistance Program allows certain customers to get discounted water rates and have unpaid bills removed from the collections process.
Unexpected medical bills, unemployment and the loss of a family member may all be considered a special hardship.
Customers who do not qualify for financial assistance can set up a payment agreement or they may have a lower down payment and be given more time to pay their bills.
More than 70,000 customers have benefitted from the shutoff ban during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Philadelphia Water Department. Over 15,000 residents who had their services turned off have since had their water restored.