New program will help delinquent water customers in Wichita
The City of Wichita is working with the Center of Hope on a new program to help low-income families who are behind on their water bills. H20 (Help To Others) Care Fund begins this week.
Wichita Housing and Community Services Director Mary K. Vaughn says that with the struggling economy, there have been more customers who are delinquent on their water bills. In early October, 4,042 accounts were facing service disruption.
Vaughn says that accounts for 2.8 percent of the total customer volume, and it represents about $1.5 million. The average delinquent account is $391.
Vaughn said the criteria for the program will be families who are 125 percent of the federal poverty level, and for a family of four that would be an annual income of $29,438 or less.
The program has three levels of assistance. In Level 1, there would be one-time assistance of $100 to people owing more than $150, if they have a plan to catch up and maintain service. Level 2 would provide one-time assistance of the entire delinquent amount for customers who owe less than $150. Level 3 will provide one-time assistance for customers who can demonstrate a temporary hardship, in order to prevent the account from becoming delinquent.
The program will be supported by donations from Wichita water customers. They can add a specific amount to their water bills, round up their water bill to the nearest dollar or make a donation to the Center of Hope.
Vaughn said if 10 percent of the city's 129,000 water customers donate $1 a month, that would generate $154,800, which would help nearly 400 customers.
Information on the program will be included with the city's water bills. People who need help can call the Center of Hope at 267-0222.