The financial assistance is tailored to vulnerable customers who reside in apartment complexes and other multifamily dwellings.
AUSTIN – An estimated 23,000 customers will soon be eligible for financial assistance thanks to a new plan proposed by Austin Water. Earlier today, Austin City Council approved the plan which provides low-income and vulnerable Austinites living in apartments and other multifamily dwellings with financial assistance to offset a portion of their monthly water/wastewater expenses. The implementation of the Austin Water Multifamily Customer Assistance Program Discount will take place over the next several months. Qualified customers can expect a savings of more $200 annually with credits to their utility bill beginning as early as March 2021.
“This program will expand the services available to help vulnerable Austinites and it demonstrates the City’s commitment to improving affordability in Austin,” said Austin City Manager, Spencer Cronk. “I commend Austin Water for their continued work in providing high quality and affordable water and wastewater services.”
“We are here to serve and improve our community,” said Greg Meszaros, Director of Austin Water. “Our commitment to addressing affordability applies to everyone, both renters and home-owners alike. This new Multifamily Customer Assistance Program Discount enhances our ability to help low-income customers who may not receive a bill directly from Austin Water, but still depend on high-quality water and wastewater services every day.”
Austin Water conducted a multi-year study to develop the Austin Water Multifamily Customer Assistance Program Discount. The work was specifically tailored to reach customers who reside in apartment complexes and other multifamily dwellings who are traditionally ineligible for Austin Water financial assistance through the Customer Assistance Program (CAP). Though Austin Water’s CAP program is considered among the best in the country, it primarily operates on a per-gallon basis that is tracked by a dedicated water meter. The new program allows Austin Water to reach vulnerable customers who do not have a dedicated water meter, but nevertheless, pay for monthly water service.
The Austin Water Multifamily Customer Assistance Program Discount will be implemented in two phases. During the first phase, Austin Water will partner with Austin Energy to identify customers who meet both of the following criteria:
- They reside in an apartment complex or other multifamily dwelling that receives services from Austin Water.
- They receive financial assistance from Austin Energy with their electric utility bill.
Qualified customers will be eligible to receive the Austin Water Multifamily Customer Assistance Program Discount on their monthly Austin Energy utility bill. Customers identified in this first phase would make up the bulk of the program’s overall eligible participants. A second smaller phase will be required to reach a small fraction of customers in Austin’s outskirts who receive water service from Austin Water, but who are not Austin Energy customers.
For more information and a complete list of financial assistance, customers are encouraged to visit https://austinenergy.com/ae/residential/yourbill/customer-assistance-programs/customer-assistance-programs
The Austin Water Multifamily Customer Assistance Program Discount is one example of the many affordability initiatives Austin Water has introduced over the years. While many water utilities across the country have increased rates by as much as 5 percent year-over-year, Austin Water reduced rates in 2018 and has not increased them since. In addition, the utility offers rate reductions for CAP customers, generous rebates, programs to help low-income families with plumbing repairs, and more.
The utility also continues to find savings through cost containment, debt management, and innovations in technology and processes. These cost savings are then passed along to customers. In 2020 alone, Austin Water sold bonds to refinance existing debt at lower interest rates and locked in a series of near-zero interest loans to make capital investments in infrastructure while saving ratepayers millions in financing costs.