DC Water boosts incentives for housing providers enrolling in customer assistance program for their tenants
October 26, 2022
DC Water introduced an innovative financial assistance program during the pandemic to provide relief to income-eligible customers who do not directly pay a water bill. It was the first utility in the region, and one of the few in the country, to deliver financial assistance to those who pay their utilities through their rent or condo fees. To boost enrollment in the program, DC Water has just increased incentives for housing providers and condo associations who participate.
Called the Multifamily Assistance Program (MAP), the program aims to provide financial assistance to a group of customers not reached via the traditional assistance funds. DC Water designed and launched MAP in a matter of months, rolling it out in early 2021, as another way to assist District residents and business owners during the pandemic.
“Affordability and equity are central to our operations, and even more so in our response to the pandemic,” commented CEO and General Manager David L. Gadis. “We sought to provide assistance to customers of all types who are struggling to pay their bills, even those who do not pay us directly for their drinking water.”
The Authority learned through the first year of MAP that the most significant barrier to participation was enrolling HOA’s and housing providers. For Fiscal Year 2023, DC Water increased the incentives for both housing providers and occupants. Now the property owners retain 20 percent of the assistance provided by DC Water to cover administrative expenses, while 80 percent is passed along to the occupants in the form of a rental credit or condo association credit. Additionally, DC Water is increasing the amount of aid for each unit, up to $2,000 for the year. This is in addition to last year’s aid, which also capped at $2,000 for the year, for a total of $4,000 in FY 2022 and 2023.
The enrollment process is relatively quick, requiring about 15 minutes online. The Authority provided an informational webinar in July that walked through the process and answers many questions. The recording is available here: https://youtu.be/4m3HX1Cz6ns.
CFO Matt Brown added, “This program benefits renters, condo owners, housing providers, and all of us in the long run, as ratepayer revenue is necessary to keep critical services running and infrastructure repaired.”
In September, the DC Water Board of Directors voted to extend MAP assistance into fiscal year 2023 which began October 1, 2022, carrying over the funds from FY2022. The program will run until September 30, 2023 or the funds are exhausted.
DC Water reminds customers that upper limits for some assistance programs are quite high depending on the number of occupants in the household. As always, DC Water urges customers to call if they are falling behind in their bills. In addition to several assistance funds, the Authority offers flexible payment plans. Please call 202-354-3600 or visit dcwater.com/cares for more information.