Millions still available to help low-income San Diegans with water bills
A fund to help San Diego County residents pay their water bills still has $2.5 million sitting unclaimed. According to leadership of the nonprofit Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty, or MAAC, which manages the fund, many people may not realize they qualify for assistance.
“We don’t want to leave money on the table when there are people that absolutely need these funds right now,” said Arnulfo Manriquez, MAAC’s president, who oversees the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program.
The one-time payment of up to $2,000 can be used toward water or wastewater bills, whether past due or current, and associated fees. It’s available to recipients of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, CalWorks or CalFresh, or people who earn below a set income.
Below are the local income limits to qualify for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program.
MAAC also facilitates a utility assistance program, and Manriquez said it receives a thousand calls a week and reliably runs out of funds.
But the water program, which just started in the past year, hasn’t gotten as much attention.
The program has dispersed $745,000 so far to 830 households.
Helping with a water bill can stabilize a family’s finances, Manriquez said. Many times households will spend their money on basic needs like water, utilities and rent, and then use a credit card for everything else, “and it begins to stretch a family.”
“It’s better to be able to connect with those households before they get into a situation of starting to amass credit on their credit card,” Manriquez said.
Translators will be made available if needed, and the organization can connect callers to other community resources as well, Manriquez said.
Residents in zip codes not listed on MAAC's website might be eligible for the funds through Campesinos Unidos, which provides funds to residents of Oceanside, La Mesa, and parts of the city of San Diego. Visit their website or call 619-391-9790 for assistance. Imperial County residents should call 760-344-4500.