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Federal program helps Californians behind on their water bills

The Low Income Household Water Assistance program provides relief of up to $2,000 for qualifying households.

SAN DIEGO — Along with rising inflation, Californians are also seeing their water bills increase as well, partially driven by the ongoing drought. 

As a result, many San Diegans are behind on their water bills, some owing more than three thousand dollars.

Help is available, through a federal program that is offering families a way to pay some or all of their outstanding bill before their water is shut off.

"It's a basic need but I feel it is a basic human right," said Valerie Hash, program manager at the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty, a non-profit headquartered in Chula Vista that serves San Diego County. "You need to have running water in your home."

With the statewide moratorium on water shut-offs - which was enacted during the height of the pandemic - now at an end, more and more families with delinquent water bills are facing the possibility of having their water turned off.

"With the state of the economy, inflation, gas prices, don't be ashamed to come and reach out," Hash told CBS 8. "We are here to help."

Has said more and more families are being forced to choose between paying for their food, housing and transportation.

"Especially now, with inflation, those on a fixed income are really suffering," she added. 

Emergency funds are now available, though, to help low-income families behind on their water bills through the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program, a federal program which MAAC is helping to administer here in San Diego.

It provides relief of up to two thousand dollars, although Hash said some families' unpaid bills exceed that.

"We've had people with $100, $150, $300, $500... and then we have seen some whammies of three thousand plus," she pointed out.

To qualify, certain income requirements must be met..

For example a single person's monthly income can not exceed about $2,564,while a family of four must make under $4,932 a month.

The process to apply is simple and can be done on-line or, if necessary, in person.

"We are getting people through the entire process within a few days," Hash added. "We send that off to their water company and it takes a couple weeks for it to hit."

For those San Diegans still struggling to pay their water bill but don't meet the income threshold because they make too much, they can still take action.

Call your water company," Hash advised. "See if they have a payment plan you can work out, see if there's a way for you to continue to have you water on, because it is incredibly important to all of us."

For more information on the Low Income Household Water Assistance program and to apply for help, click here

WATCH RELATED: Non-profit organization helps low-income Latino families in San Diego (Oct. 2022).

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