March 2, 2022
The City of South Bend will forgive outstanding utility debts, which includes charges for water, sewer and solid waste services, for nearly 5,000 South Bend households. This follows a nearly two-year moratorium on water shutoffs.
“With the end of the local COVID-19 emergency, it is time to move forward and lift the moratorium on shutoffs, which was put in place to alleviate the burden on residents as we fought through the global pandemic together,” said Mayor James Mueller. “This relief on City utility debt provides our residents with a clean slate as we finally emerge from the challenging past two years. We’ve also expanded assistance programs to help residents in need stay up-to-date on their bills moving forward.”
The City will relieve a total of $3.1 million in unpaid City utility bills for 4,957 households. The relief forgives up to $2,500 in unpaid bills for active residential accounts in the City of South Bend that are more than 60-days past their bill date as of February 28, 2022. Residents will see the relief reflected on their March or April utility bill. Following distribution of the relief, the City will resume water shutoffs for nonpayment in June.
“We continue to expand opportunities to assist customers with the Utility Assistance Program (UAP) and the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIWAP),” said Director of Public Works Eric Horvath. “These ongoing programs will help customers reduce their monthly financial burden even further.”
The Department of Innovation & Technology’s analysis of utility bill data found that the average relief received is $631.
“The $2,500 forgiveness cap was high enough to fully forgive 99% of eligible accounts.” said Chief Innovation Officer Denise Linn Riedl. “This is a fast influx of relief to South Bend households without hoops, applications, or bureaucracy.”
The City of South Bend and South Bend Common Council have also expanded the year-round Utility Assistance Program to provide up to a $25 per month reduction in utility bills for qualifying families.
Formal approval for the relief package will be heard by the Board of Public Works at its meeting on Tuesday, March 8.
Residents are encouraged to visit southbendin.gov/utilityrelief to learn more about this one-time relief program.