With unemployment in Seattle hovering above 8 percent, many households are feeling a pinch. However, an estimated 80 percent of income-eligible households within the City of Seattle are not taking advantage of energy assistance programs. Many residents, who have fallen on hard times, may not be aware that they are eligible for the programs.
Customers whose household income is 70 percent or less of the state median are eligible to apply for the City of Seattle’s Utility Assistance Program. It provides a 50 percent discount on electric bills from Seattle City Light as well as public utilities such as water, sewer and solid waste for up to 18 months.
A family of four, making less than $4,577 a month, or $54,924 per year, may qualify to receive a 50 percent discount on electric and utility bills.
Additionally, the Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens administers the Utility Discount Program for senior citizens, which also reduces Seattle City Light electric bills and Seattle Combined Utilities bill for water, sewer and solid waste.
Residents of federally subsidized housing, including Seattle Housing Authority, Section 8, and King County Housing Authority are not eligible for the programs. For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/MyBill or call (206) 684-0268. There are separate applications for the senior and non-senior discount programs.
“In these hard times, no one should struggle with paying their electricity or water bill if there is assistance available,” said City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, speaking at the St. Vincent de Paul Georgetown Food Bank, which provides 1.1 million meals yearly to the needy.
“This includes the approximately 55,000 Seattle income-eligible households which—if they knew about the City’s low-income rate assistance programs—could find some economic relief,” said O’Brien.
“Last year the Council streamlined the eligibility for rate assistance, our focus now is making sure that people know about the program and sign up for it,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Energy, Technology and Civil Rights Committee and Vice Chair of Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee.
Source: Seattle Medium newspaper, www.seattle.gov