MONTEREY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Recognizing that no one should go without the essential service of safe, reliable water, California American Water has launched a new hardship assistance program to provide relief for its most financially burdened customers. The Cal Am funded program covers the outstanding balance of qualified customers who are currently in arrears with their water bill or in receipt of a 3-day notice of water shut-off. Eligible customers are referred and vetted through United Way Monterey County, a local nonprofit with extensive experience helping low-income families achieve financial stability. The initiative was inspired by similar programs offered by a handful of other utilities in the state and seeks to lend a helping hand to customers who have fallen on hard times.
Customer eligibility for the Hardship Benefit Program is determined by United Way Monterey County (UWMC). If the applicant is approved, UWMC provides a payment to Cal Am on the customer’s behalf to provide relief toward the outstanding bill. The program is funded through a $50,000 grant from California American Water and provides financially strapped customers help they could not receive elsewhere. A portion of the grant will be used for UWMC system changes required to implement the program.
“We understand that sometimes customers face extraordinary circumstances and challenges that make it difficult to meet their monthly expenses and want to provide a helping hand,” said California American Water Director of Operations for the Monterey district, Eric Sabolsice. “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with United Way and are very pleased to work with such a qualified, reputable organization to implement this program.”
“United Way is pleased to be a part of this innovative service to local people who are in financial crisis,” said Katy Castagna, President and CEO of United Way Monterey County. “Our 2-1-1 Call Specialists can deliver timely relief to people who qualify.”
Cal Am is offering the pilot Hardship Benefit Program in addition to its longstanding Low-Income Assistance Program, which provides qualifying customers with a monthly discount on their water bill. Financially distressed customers can also work with Cal Am’s customer service center to establish payment plans if the customer cannot pay the full balance of their water bill. Customers already enrolled in the Low-Income Assistance Program may apply for additional support through the Hardship Benefit Program, but the customers do not necessarily have to be low-income to qualify, as the Program seeks to accommodate customers that may be experiencing temporary financial hardship.
Water customers who are interested in seeking assistance from the Hardship Benefit Program should call California American Water’s customer service center at 1-888-237-1333. Cal Am’s call handlers will refer customers to the program who require additional assistance beyond payment arrangements and enrollment in the company’s existing low-income program.
California American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), provides high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to more than 660,000 people. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly-traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,700 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 47 states and Ontario, Canada. More information can be found by visiting www.amwater.com.