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Pritzker lets water and sewer bill assistance flow ‘to support our most vulnerable’

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program is the latest state effort to help residents pay their utility bills. It joins a $327 million program announced in September to help residents with bills for their energy services.

The state’s Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program is designed to help low-income residents pay their utility bills.
The state’s Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program is designed to help low-income residents pay their utility bills.
Sun-Times file

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday urged low-income Illinoisans in need of help with their water and sewer bills to tap into a new $42 million state program created to help them avoid seeing those services shut off.

“I came into the governor’s office with a promise to rebuild and revitalize Illinois’ human services sector, which has been decimated, frankly, under my predecessor’s budget crisis,” Pritzker said.

“While the need is still great, I’m very proud that Illinois is a national leader in helping people stay in their homes during this health emergency. Residents deserve the dignity and the safety that comes from having a roof over their heads with the lights on and the water running, and, here in Illinois, we continue to support our most vulnerable.”

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program is the latest state effort to help residents pay their utility bills. It joins a $327 million program announced in September to help residents with their energy bills, housing, food and other essentials as well as rental assistance programs offered by the state.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces a new state program to help Illinoisans pay their water and wastewater bills at Proviso Baptist Church in Maywood on Tuesday.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces a new state program to help Illinoisans pay their water and wastewater bills at Proviso Baptist Church in Maywood on Tuesday.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Facebook page

The governor said the state has been able to help Illinoisans avoid 112,000 instances of disconnected utilities across the state and plans to provide “hundreds of millions of additional dollars to support their recovery in the months ahead.”

A household facing utilities being disconnected can only tap into the water assistance program once. The program is also available to those who’ve already had their services cut off or who have a past due balance over $250 combined for their water and wastewater services, according to a state website describing the program.

Illinois households must demonstrate income no greater than twice the federal poverty line to be eligible for funds from the program. For a family of four, that works out to a combined income of $54,000 or less.

State residents can apply once for help with their water bills and once for their wastewater bills over the course of the program, which began last Wednesday and runs to Aug. 31, 2023. Those seeking more information or wanting to see if they’re eligible can go to the state’s Help Illinois Families website.

 A Chicago Department of Water Management boat cruises alongside the James W. Jardine Water Purification Plant in 2014.
A Chicago Department of Water Management boat cruises alongside the James W. Jardine Water Purification Plant in 2014.
Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times file

Residents can also fill out a request-for-service form at that site, call the state’s hotline at 1-833-711-0374, or visit any of the 34 community action agencies across the state to seek out the assistance.

The program was authorized in the state’s budget and utilizes federal funds Illinois received from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act.

The water assistance program is the latest effort by the state to help residents pay for services they may have lapsed on during the pandemic, such as their energy bills, rent or mortgage payments.

Pritzker said the state on Monday launched another $300 million pool of funds for rental assistance in the state and urged residents needing help with those payments to visit the state’s Illinois families site for more information. Residents have until Jan. 9, 2022 to apply to receive some of those funds.