Helping Cost-Burdened Renters Pay Their Utilities
May 23, 2018
During Portland’s housing crisis, some of our neighbors need extra help paying their utility bill.
Since 1995, Portland has offered lower-income customers discounts on their utility bills. We were one of the first big cities in the nation to do so.
But customers needed a water meter to qualify. Because many apartment buildings have a shared meter, cost-burdened renters were left out.
Today, we took a step to change that.
In the City’s recently-adopted budget, we approved a handful of new tools to expand eligibility for struggling families. And today, Council heard a proposal for a first-of-its-kind partnership with Home Forward, our public housing partner.
Here’s how it works: the utility bureaus will contribute up to $500 annually for a low-income household that pays their utilities through their rent. Home Forward will incorporate utility assistance into their short-term rental assistance program, an existing, proven program they manage for low-income renters.
Portland would be one of the first big cities in the nation to offer utility financial assistance to customers without a water meter. Council will vote on the proposal next Wednesday.
We’re proud to take this important step, and grateful to all the partners who made it happen. Special thanks to Gabe Solmer, Kathy Koch, Liam Frost, and all the Water Bureau customer service staff, and our partners at Home Forward, the Portland Utility Board, and the Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board.