Kentucky households can still apply for assistance to help pay their water bills.
Additional federal aid through the American Rescue Plan Act provided the state $18 million to pay water companies directly to cover delinquent bills, past-due charges, and fees and taxes for drinking and wastewater services. The program is slated to run through September of next year.
Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said residents in every county will be able to get assistance.
“This is the first time that there’s been a water and wastewater assistance program,” Friedlander pointed out. “Some local communities have had a few, but this is the first time we’ve been able to do this statewide.”
Kentuckians can apply for help paying water bills by contacting their local Community Action Agency. Find your agency online at kynect.ky.gov.
According to the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association, consumers owed more than $23 billion in utility debt in 2021, up from $20 billion the previous year.
Friedlander noted unpaid bills can have ripple effects, further destabilizing struggling families.
“It’s actually in some ways what’s kept people out of housing, is that they’ve owed past water bills, and there hasn’t been a lot of assistance for that,” Friedlander observed. “This helps with that. This helps people stay in housing, which is what we really need to do.”
Research showed low-income households spend around 16% of their budget on their water bills, and minimum-wage workers have to work around 10 hours per month just to pay for water services.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.