With the new year, there are a few notable changes coming to Charlotte Water (CLTWater). CLTWater has slowly been returning to pre-Covid billing operations, and some of these processes have already been implemented. Beginning January 2023, customers can expect disconnection and reconnection fees ($17 each) to resume. Also in January, late fees, which are 1.5% of past-due charges, will begin and will appear on February bills.
Charlotte Water continues to look for ways to help customers who need help with their water bills get connected to resources. At the beginning of the pandemic, CLTWater policies were temporarily changed or suspended. As financial aid programs, CARES Act funding and City grants became available, CLTWater worked closely with community partners like Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS), Housing and Neighborhood Services, and local non-profits community groups such as DreamKey Partners, Crisis Assistance Ministries and Commonwealth Charlotte, to connect thousands of customers with financial aid assistance.
One such financial assistance program was the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). This federal program was designed specifically for customers who were in danger of having their water service disconnected due to outstanding balances. To better help residents, CLTWater and DSS met regularly and worked intensely to streamline the process of receiving federal funding and distributing the aid directly to customer accounts who qualified. CLTWater was the only utility in the state to auto-match customers with LIHWAP financial assistance.
By implementing this process, and because of the successful partnership with DSS, thousands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg area residents received financial assistance. In just the first round of funding, CLTWater and DSS allocated more than $1.3 million to CLTWater customers, approximately 19% of all LIHWAP funds distributed statewide. The number of outstanding or delinquent CLTWater accounts at risk of disconnection dropped by the thousands, and more federal funding is expected.
Today, CLTWater and DSS representatives continue to meet weekly to keep the process running smoothing, discussing everything from how people are learning about different aid programs, how many accounts are in need of aid, and the best communication strategies to keep the public informed. By working with DSS, CLTWater customers that are in need of water bill assistance can also learn about other utility assistance and housing assistance programs offered by DSS, such as Low Income Energy Assistance Program.
As CLTWater slowly moves back to normal operations, assistance is still available for customers in need of financial help during this time. Visit CharlotteWater.org, or call 311, and get connected to a variety of resources.