‘Texas Utility Help’ program launches across Texas

Program helps Texans struggling to recover their utility debt
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 6:38 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - With the record-breaking temperatures, we saw this past weekend, some people are expecting record breaking utility bills, but a new Texas program hopes to relieve some of those pressures.

The Texas department of housing and community affairs rolled out the Texas utility help program late last week.

The program will assist eligible low-income homeowners and renters having a tough time paying their utility bills.

Qualified applicants can receive assistance for their past due electricity, natural gas and propane as well a water and wastewater.

TDHCA’s Bobby Wilkinson says the program is meant to help Texas residents get back on track and stay up to date with their utility payments.

“It can pay all of your overdue electric and gas bill plus $2400 in the future. It can pay all your overdue water bills plus $600 going forward,” Wilkinson said.

The program has $50 million in funding coming from the low-income home energy assistance program and low-income household water assistance program.

In order to be eligible, applicants must meet certain criteria put in place by the state.

Discussing the criteria, Wilkinson said, “Any family or household that has 150% federal poverty level or below. For a family of four that’s $41,000.”

The 2020 census reported Waco’s average household at 2.5 people.

150% of two people’s household income is $27,000 according to federal poverty guidelines.

It’s still early but he believes the program will keep its momentum with a positive influx of applications.

When asked how the program was doing since opening last Thursday he said, “Next day by mid-day, we had over a thousand [applications]. I haven’t seen the numbers today but I’m sure it’ll be a thousand a day for a while now. It’s pretty hot out there.”

Although payment delivery can vary between customers, those who are approved will have money sent directly to their utility company bringing their balance due to zero as well as cover upcoming expenses.

“It depends, it’ll vary. Please read through the FAQ’s, try to get the right documentation uploaded. Need a good email and phone number so that the analyst can get back to you and process your application. Also, we have to set up vendor agreements to pay your utility provider directly. We’re already set up with most of the big energy companies but if it’s a smaller one or small water provider it may take a little time to get that part set-up.

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