Los Angeles DWP to end water and power shutoffs for low-income customers who can’t pay
A power cut will take days, if not weeks, to repair and a water shutoff of a day or even two can be devastating. But these are increasingly routine issues for residents of the City of Los Angeles and other California cities, who are often stuck without water or power, as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts the water and electricity industry.
For California’s low-income residents, the sudden loss of their water and power can lead to panic buying trips to the corner store, as well as a decrease in access to food and medications they need to stave off the coronavirus.
The L.A. Department of Water and Power, which supplies water to 1.8 million households in the city and its environs, made a rare move this week: giving low-income households notice they are losing their water and power service.
Under state law, a home is considered low-income if it’s below the federal poverty level, meaning that someone making the $7,760 income threshold should qualify for free or reduced water and power.
The water and power shutoff notices come as more and more consumers are relying on bottled water and electric delivery services such as Uber Eats and Instacart, which deliver grocery orders, food and medicine. The shutoffs are likely to affect at least a million Californians, including those living in apartments, renters and small businesses.
To make sure its customers are not at risk, the LADWP has established safeguards, including a 24-hour hotline and a video call system to relay information about the shutoffs. The department has also set up a website for residents to check their accounts.
“We are working with partners such as the Los Angeles Chamber and community banks to ensure this process is as seamless for our customers as possible,” said LADWP spokeswoman Lisa Norenberg.
The LADWP estimates the shutoff notices will force about 400,000 households to make important decisions that will have a positive impact on their lives.
For example: Should you eat out instead of ordering food delivered from the supermarket, or pay $1,800 extra for the delivery for a home that costs less than $200,000?
Should you stay home and have your utility shut off? Or do you have no choice but to spend at least $400 on an Uber Eats