Around 1,700 Louisville Water Company customers have had their taps shut off since July because they couldn’t afford to pay their bills.
That number has increased about fivefold since Louisville announced plans to provide an additional $2.5 million in utility relief a month ago.
Around 3,000 customers are in the “disconnect category,” and another 11,000 customers are behind on their bills and at risk of the same, said Kelley Dearing-Smith, Louisville Water vice president. Most of those who’ve fallen behind on their bills have never missed a payment before or only missed one payment.
On Wednesday, Louisville Metro provided the $2.5 million in funding to help residential customers. The money comes from the first round of American Rescue Plan funding. It will go toward the so-called Drops of Kindness Program, which offers eligible customers a one-time credit of up to $1,000 on their Louisville Water/MSD bill.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen community and government work together to address affordability with the Drops of Kindness program,” said Spencer Bruce, president of Louisville Water Company. “We thank Louisville Metro for this much-needed assistance.”
To qualify, the outstanding balance must have happened between March 16, 2020, and June 30, 2021. Customers behind on their bills will have to prove they have a residential account in Jefferson County and identify a COVID-19 based financial hardship. There is no income requirement to receive the credit.
“Many of the people being helped by our COVID-19 Utility Relief program have never fallen behind on their bills before the pandemic impacted their jobs and their hours,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “We are grateful that the ARP funding allows us to help them get back on track.”
Since the pandemic began, Louisville Water has distributed more than $4 million in utility relief to more than 11,000 customers.
Louisville Metro also assisted more than 11,400 LG&E customers with outstanding balances with $6 million in utility assistance.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misreported the number of customers who have been disconnected. In actuality Louisville Water has disconnected 1,700 customers from their drinking water service, and an additional 3,000 people are in the “disconnect category.”