Helping Our Neighbors Pay Their Utility Bills
February 13, 2018
During Portland’s housing crisis, some of our neighbors need extra help paying their utility bill.
Today, Council held a work session to review our proposal to help cost-burdened renters.
The Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services have a nationally-recognized financial assistance program. But historically it didn’t reach people living in multi-family housing. The challenge is that many apartment buildings only have one meter, and many renters don’t have a utility account (instead, landlords include water and sewer in the rent).
To reach cost-burdened renters, we’ve proposed a partnership with Home Forward. The utility bureaus would contribute up to $500 annually for a low-income household that pays utilities through rent. Home Forward would then incorporate utility assistance into an existing, proven program they manage for low-income renters.
Today’s proposal includes other solutions to expand the financial assistance program, including lowering the bar to qualify and creating a single point of contact for customers to get help.
Special thanks to Gabe Solmer, Kathy Koch, Liam Frost, all the Water Bureau customer service staff, Home Forward, and the many community partners who provided input and joined us today.