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Los Angeles Mayor Announces Debt Relief for Residents To Help Pay for Utility Bills

debt relief for LA residents on their utilities
© Brooke Cagle

In a significant move to aid residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced this week a comprehensive relief program aimed at assisting hundreds of thousands of Angelenos with unpaid utility bills. The announcement, made in collaboration with Council member Heather Hutt, CalEPA Secretary Yana Garcia, Water Resources Control Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel, LADWP CEO and Chief Engineer Janisse Quiñones, and other officials, underscores the city’s ongoing commitment to economic recovery and support for its residents.

“This announcement providing relief to thousands continues Los Angeles’s commitment to having our community’s back in the continued recovery from the pandemic,” said Mayor Bass. “DWP bills are a source of severe stress for so many families in the City. We continue to be committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners through our locked arms approach to help our residents have access to critical assistance.”

The relief initiative is part of the Water and Wastewater Arrearages Program, which has already provided $253 million in funding to Los Angeles. This is a portion of the over $700 million in utility assistance funds distributed over the past four years. The program, administered by the State Water Resources Control Board with federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, aims to help residents manage their electric and water use while catching up on overdue bills.

LADWP CEO and Chief Engineer Janisse Quiñones highlighted the significance of this state support: “The State’s support for our customers has been a lifeline for them. We want our customers to know that LADWP cares, and we are here to help them get caught up on their LADWP bill and better manage their electric and water use.”

Barbara Romero, Director and General Manager of LASAN, emphasized the importance of these services for public health and the environment. “We are grateful to the State of California for including us in this utility financial assistance program so that we can once again support fellow Angelenos and their families.”

The initiative is a continuation of the Governor’s early pandemic actions, which included a moratorium on water shutoffs and the distribution of critical funding to water systems to forgive debt. “The Governor’s swift action in the early days of the pandemic kept taps on for millions of struggling Californians,” said Yana Garcia, California Secretary for Environmental Protection.

E. Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the State Water Board, praised the coordinated efforts across all levels of government. “All levels of government demonstrated decisive and cooperative action during California’s COVID-19 response to protect people during a crisis and hasten their recovery from it.”

Mayor Bass expressed gratitude to the California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program for allocating funds to Los Angeles. This latest relief effort builds on previous aid programs from 2022 and 2021, designed to assist those who fell behind on their utility bills during the pandemic period from March 4, 2020, to June 15, 2021.

This coordinated effort demonstrates Los Angeles’ dedication to providing economic relief and essential services to its residents, ensuring a continued path toward recovery and resilience.