Los Angeles DWP to end water and power shutoffs for low-income customers who can’t pay
Los Angeles DWP has announced a plan to end voluntary shutoffs of water and power to households that can’t or refuse to pay their bills
The nation’s largest public utility has announced plans to end involuntary shutoffs for water and electricity to people who can’t or choose not to pay their bills.
Under the new plan, which starts on November 1, households with low incomes will no longer be asked to “prove their financial responsibility” as a first step in being cut off from utilities.
“It’s not a requirement” to pay bills, a spokesman for the Department of Water and Power told ABC.
People with low incomes will still have to pay their bills, but the agency is allowing households to skip paying their bills if they can’t afford the costs, or agree to stop paying them.
The decision comes after a months-long push by community leaders for the program to be ended.
“For too long, we’ve had to tell people they’re out of luck,” says Maria P. Foscarinis, a community organizer with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Mississippi, who is a board member of the Service Employees International Union Local 521. “They’re going to get cut off if they can’t pay.”
In fact, as we reported earlier this month, officials in several cities – including New York City, Detroit and St. Louis – have enacted programs similar to the Los Angeles DWP plan, with the goal of ending “unnecessary hardship” shutoffs.
While the Los Angeles plan – dubbed “Poverty-Pay,” and currently being piloted in three areas — has generated some controversy from its critics, which include advocates and elected officials, DWP is already backing the program, a city spokesperson told ABC – and it’s set to roll out to nine more areas over the next few months.
The Los Angeles program is only meant to be a pilot, with more details to come, but it’s already generating excitement across the nation, including among those who believe the Los Angeles program represents a national model for how to help people of modest means stay connected to the electricity grid.
“It’s a step in the right direction, and one that we should have been doing the first thing – not the fifth