Since the start of the pandemic, people across the nation have experienced job loss, cut back on hours, and general money issues, which have led to past due bills.
According to the City of Huntsville Finance Director Steve Ritter, around 570 residents are currently behind on utility payments. Utilities can include water, sewer and garbage services within the city.
To better assist residents, the Huntsville city council voted in April 2020 to suspend any disconnection of water services, it would later be extended in Dec. 2020.
“Many people need extra money during December for the holidays, and I did not want to burden citizens with added stress during that time,” councilmember Daiquiri Beebe said.
So far, the city has donated $25,000 of CARES Act funding to the C.O.M.E Center, which has helped residents with past-due water bills.
“C.O.M.E Center actually takes applications from people that are wanting assistance,” Ritter said. “They go through their vetting process about determining actual need, then they turn around and they will pay some of that person’s water bill.”
The city also opened Project Help, a form that residents can complete to donate monthly to those in need.
City councilmembers look positive about the new program and hope it can help lessen the burden.
“Project Help is a unique idea that stemmed from the concern that the city council had for the citizens suffering during this time and I look forward to seeing the results of the giving by fellow citizens,” Beebe said. “We live in a servant-hearted community full of people always willing to help others.”
According to Ritter, the city will continue suspending water disconnections but are unsure if or when the suspensions will stop.
Until then, people are asked to donate if they can at Project Help. For further information on assistance, please contact C.O.M.E Center at (936) 295-0671.