With 2,200 residential water customers severely behind on paying bills, the City of Jackson continues to work with residents on ways they can take care of unpaid water bills. Help is available through various programs using COVID-19 relief funds.
Since the pandemic began, the Jackson City Council has allocated a total of $246,000 to the Water Shutoff Protection Program using federal COVID-19 relief funds. The program is open to low-income City of Jackson residents with unpaid water bills. The Water Department has identified 2,200 residential customers who are in “shutoff status”. That means if the City was performing water shutoffs they would be losing water service due to unpaid bills. With 14,426 water customers in the system, a projected 15% of customers are severely behind on paying water bills.
There has been a moratorium on water shutoffs in the City since the pandemic started in March 2020 to aid public health. While the City is not currently performing shutoffs, it’s important for residents to know that charges for water usage are still accumulating and residents continue to be responsible for paying bills.
The first step for getting assistance is contacting Utility Billing by calling 517-788-4082 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. From there, customers can find out how much they owe, resolve their payment, or be referred to the Community Action Agency (CAA) for assistance. The City is working with CAA to administer its Water Shutoff Protection Program. CAA says it has assisted 40 local households with unpaid water bills, paying off a total of $15,000 in bills.
Hundreds of Jackson residents with unpaid water bills saw some relief from the State of Michigan last December. COVID-19 relief funds from the State were automatically applied to the accounts of 506 low-income water customers in Jackson, totaling $130,445 in aid.
Public Information Officer Aaron Dimick says efforts are ongoing to help residents impacted by the pandemic. “It’s very important to make sure residents who are under financial strain from the pandemic are cared for,” Dimick said. “Whether you’re facing eviction, foreclosure or unpaid water bills, the City has money available from the federal government to help.”
The City continues to inform the residents about the help that’s available through community partners, CodeRED messages, social media posts, newsletter mailers, and website information.