Release Date: June 30,2020
Mayor Horrigan Makes Significant Resources Available to Akron Water and Sewer Customers In Need
City will offer direct financial assistance, payment plans, and financial empowerment services to customers struggling to pay their Akron utility bills
Akron, Ohio, June 30, 2020 – Today, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan is proactively leading among Ohio cities, and announcing comprehensive plans to assist Akron water and sewer customers struggling to pay their City utility bills due to economic hardship. A local charitable program called Akron Cares is available to help offset bills for customers in need, including senior citizens, low income households, and those experiencing a financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Akron Cares is a charitable program funded by private donations from individuals and corporations, including many City employees and utility customers who generously donate to their neighbors experiencing hardship. Currently, Akron residents can qualify for Akron Cares funding if their household income is less than 300% of the federal poverty level, they are enrolled in a qualifying social assistance program, or they are experiencing loss of income or increased expenses or medical bills due to COVID-19.
“In Akron, we know that many families already struggled to pay their water bills even before being hit with a pandemic, record high unemployment, and extreme social and economic stress,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “The crises of the last few months have only highlighted the importance of clean water and sanitation to our community, and the extraordinary financial burden of the City’s strict and inflexible consent decree. While the City has an obligation to collect revenue to maintain essential water and sewer projects and operations, I am simply unwilling to leave our customers in need without options or relief. This charitable program will help us work with customers to avoid shutoffs and alleviate some of the heavy burdens these families are carrying.”
On March 12th, Mayor Horrigan issued a moratorium on all water service disconnections for Akron customers, to ensure safe access to clean water for drinking, handwashing, personal hygiene, and household cleaning, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this moratorium, the City of Akron has not been issuing disconnection notices to any delinquent customers. In accordance with state guidelines, the statewide moratorium on water disconnections will lift on July 10th. To provide Akron water customers with sufficient time to address any issues with their account, Mayor Horrigan has extended Akron’s moratorium until August 1, 2020.
To prepare for the lifting of the moratorium, residents who are struggling to pay their water bill are encouraged to contact the City to learn more about extended payment plans and to apply for Akron Cares at akronohio.gov/akroncares or by contacting 3-1-1. This week, the City is proactively reaching out to many delinquent customers by mailing postcards to inform them of the program and how to apply. The Akron Cares application process is streamlined to increase accessibility and reduce barriers to water bill relief. Applications will be processed on a first come, first served basis.
“We are prepared to assist all eligible households, through a combination of direct financial assistance, extended payment plans, or a referral to free financial empowerment resources,” said Shelley Goodrich, Deputy Director of Finance. “Residents should not hesitate to contact the Utility Billing Office to discuss available options. Our Customer Service Representatives are ready and willing to explore solutions before households are faced with overdue bills, past-due balances or, worst case scenario, a potential disconnection. Ignoring those bills won’t make them go away, and the uncertainty will only add to family stress during this challenging time. Please reach out—resources are available.”
Another resource available to residents experiencing financial stress is the Akron Financial Empowerment Center, a program of the City of Akron in partnership with United Way. The Akron Financial Empowerment Center provides free financial services to individuals, helping them to acquire the skills to budget and save, develop healthy banking relationships and raise their credit scores. Learn more by visiting www.uwsummit.org/FEC or asking 3-1-1 for a free referral.
More information about the Akron Cares program, including eligibility criteria and an online application, is available at akronohio.gov/akroncares or by contacting the Mayor’s Action Center at 3-1-1 or (330) 375-2311.