If you are experiencing genuine inability to afford the local water or wastewater service, you will need to work with your local utility and Tribal or city officials to find an alternative payment solution. Many communities have affordability programs in place. Talk with those in charge of billing to see if alternative payment solutions are available in your community. If this is not the case, you may need to propose that some sort of assistance or affordability program be implemented. Go to the Engaging in Critical Conversations section to learn how to discuss difficult topics with your utility and leadership. You may also direct them to the resources on Rate Setting, Making Water Affordable and Customer Assistance in the Local Leadership section.
Here are some examples of assistance or affordability programs offered in other communities that you may offer as ideas for your utility:
- Allowing customers to set up payment plans to pay down debt in increments over time.
- Connecting customers to public or private social assistance programs that help low income households pay utility bills.
- Offer reduced rates to Elders, the disabled, or lowest income community members. This could be financed by:
- Slightly increasing rates for all other customers.
- Subsidization from outside sources.
- Debt forgiveness to provide struggling customers with a clean financial starting point. Often this debt forgiveness is limited in the number of times it is available to a given customer.