City of Lawrence to soon begin providing utility assistance to those who have lost income due to the pandemic

photo by: Mike Yoder

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016

City of Lawrence residents whose income has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic can soon apply for assistance in paying their city utility bill.

The city has been awarded $500,000 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES, for an assistance program to help utility customers with economic hardship due to COVID-19. The program will help residents cover utility bills incurred between March 1 and Dec. 10, and will begin accepting applications on Nov. 1, according to a city staff memo.

The city has partnered with various local social service agencies to administer the program. Applicants will need proof of being a residential utility customer, proof or certification of not being able to pay utilities due to a loss/reduction of income due to the economic impact of COVID-19, and proof of economic need. Specifically, a household’s pre-COVID-19 income must have been less than 80% of the area’s average median income, or a household can affirm eligibility if it is receiving benefits through other programs, such as Medicaid.

The annual income limit is $49,500 for one person, $56,600 for a household of two, $63,650 for a household of three, $70,700 for a household of four, and $76,400 for a household of five. Residents whose income exceeds the threshold are still eligible to apply to the program, but those at or below 80% average median income will be prioritized.

Those who have a delinquent balance of 22 days or more will be notified by mail about the program. As of Oct. 20, there were 3,359 active utility accounts with a balance more than 21 days past due, totaling about $1.04 million in delinquent payments, according to city reports.

The community organizations that will receive and process applications for the assistance are as follows:

Ballard Center, 785-842-0729

Catholic Charities, 785-856-2694

ECKAN, 785-841-3357

Lawrence Family Promise, 785-764-9506

Salvation Army, 785-843-4188

Senior Resource Center, 785-842-0543

Willow Domestic Violence Center, 785-843-3333

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