Behind on your utility bills? These programs might help

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York County has help available for those struggling with utility bills.(WYDaily/Annie Gallo)
York County has help available for those struggling with utility bills.(WYDaily/Annie Gallo)

Some localities in the Historic Triangle are providing relief for citizens struggling to pay bills.

In York County, the locality’s utility billing department has federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act available to assist those who are behind on their bills due to the ongoing pandemic.

This assistance is for the sewer maintenance portion of the York County utility bill. The initial program deadlines have been extended.

Assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Customers should email utility@yorkcounty.gov with their address and explain their situation to see if they qualify for the utility relief program. Anyone interested may also call Utility Billing at 757-890-3702 to speak with a staff member.

Assistance may also be available for water and wastewater bills from Hampton Roads Sanitation District and Newport News Waterworks. Contact information can be found on the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission’s website.

The Paycheck Protection Program portal has also reopened. This program provides loans to help local businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic. The portal and information on other assistance programs are available on the Economic Development website.

Recently, the City of Williamsburg was awarded $92,027.49 in relief funds from the CARES Act to assist eligible water and sewer customers.

The city’s COVID-19 Municipal Utility Relief Program aims to help residents and small-business owners facing past-due utility bills from March 1 through Dec. 30 due to COVID-19.

Utility customers with accounts over 30 days in arrears were encouraged to complete an intake certification form. Award amount notifications were sent out the week of Jan. 18.

Anyone with questions is encouraged to call 757-220-6182.

RELATED STORY: Here’s good news: Relief offered by Williamsburg to residents and biz owners facing past due utility bills

In James City County, residents with past-due utility bills might also be able to get some relief. In November, the county received about $315,000 funding through the CARES Act, so both individuals and businesses who have coronavirus related-hardships can apply for utility relief.

As of Tuesday, Doug Powell, general manager for the James City Services Authority, noted the county has credited $132,623.

“We do want to get the word out,” he added.

Residents are required to fill out an online application to see if they qualify or are approved for the program. One of the criteria for the relief is a utility bill “at least 30 days in arrears”  — a past due bill at least a month old — according to the JCSA’s website.

The amounts vary since both individuals and businesses can apply for relief.

When asked if there was a certain number of times people can apply for utility relief, Powell said. “It’s first come, first serve until the funding runs out.”

It is not clear how many residents, individuals and businesses have received utility relief through this program.

As of Wednesday, the county has “assisted” 457 customers.

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