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California American Water launches new hardship assistance program in Monterey County
In order to ensure that each customer in Monterey County has access to reliable water, California American Water has launched a new hardship assistance program in partnership with United Way Monterey County (UWMC). The new program is intended to provide relief for Cal Am’s most financially burdened customers in Monterey County.
Although Cal Am has a longstanding Low-Income Assistance Program, which provides qualifying customers with a monthly discount on their water bill, the new Hardship Benefit Program is designed to covers the outstanding balance of qualified customers who are currently in arrears with their water bill or in receipt of a three-day notice of water shut-off.
“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 Eric Sabolsice, California American Water director of Operations for the Monterey district. “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.”
Customers already enrolled in the Low-Income Assistance Program may also apply for additional support through the Hardship Benefit Program. However, customers do not necessarily have to be low-income to qualify for the Hardship Benefit Program; in addition to the Low-Income Assistance Program Cal Am is seeking to accommodate customers that may be experiencing a temporary financial hardship.
Customers applying for the Hardship Benefit Program will be assisted by UWMC. If the customer/applicant is eligible and approved for the program UWMC forwards payment to Cal Am to provide relief toward the outstanding bill on the customer’s behalf. The program is funded through a $50,000 grant from California American Water and provides financially strapped customers help they could not receive elsewhere.
“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’s Hardship Benefit Program 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. A portion of Cal Am’s grant will be used by UWMC to execute system changes required to implement the program.
“The Hardship Benefit Program in Monterey County is a pilot program,” said Kevin Tilden, vice president with California American Water. “We’ll see how it goes and what the demand is.”
Cal Am’s customers who want to apply for assistance with their water bill 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 best suited to their situation including the Hardship Benefit Program, payment arrangements or enrollment in the company’s existing Low-Income Assistance Program.