Assistance, payment plans available ahead of Aug. 15 resumption of shutoffs for nonpayment
LONG BEACH, CALIF. (MAY 18, 2023) — Long Beach utility providers are encouraging customers with outstanding debt on their water, natural gas, sewer or refuse account to apply for assistance or get on a flexible payment plan.
Residential customers with an unpaid balance who are not enrolled in a payment arrangement could face utility disconnection as early as Aug. 15, 2023, following nearly three years of the city suspending disconnection for nonpayment amid the COVID-19 crisis.
As of mid-May, more than 16,500 residential customers have $12.7 million in overdue water, sewer, gas and refuse bills. Individual customer debt ranges from $100 or below to more than $4,000. The majority of customers owe less than $1,000.
Long Beach Utilities offers many options to assist residential customers struggling to pay outstanding debt on their utility accounts.
Approved income-qualified customers, those with medical conditions or disabilities and seniors can take advantage of assistance programs to reduce the amount they owe. Available help includes the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program, or LIWAP, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.
Any customer can set up a flexible payment plan — up to 36 months — to pay off their balance over time. Applications are available online, in-person at the utility offices, libraries and other locations, and by phone at (562) 570-5700.
Applications and more information for all programs are available at lbwater.org/billhelp.
“With the emergency of the pandemic now over, the utilities are returning to normal business operations after nearly three years of not pursuing balances on unpaid accounts,” Long Beach Utilities General Manager Chris Garner said. “I encourage anyone with an outstanding balance to pay what they can reasonably afford and, if not able to pay the balance, contact us to apply for assistance from LIHEAP or LIWAP or get on a payment plan. We are here to help get through this together.”
With support from various state and federal funding opportunities and local funding, Long Beach has distributed $11.4 million to more than 143,000 residential and 400 commercial account holders to offset overdue utility bills.
Amid the winter 2022-2023 spike in residential natural gas prices, the City Council and Long Beach Utilities authorized and distributed $7.5 million in additional payment assistance.
Utility shutoffs for commercial customers with unpaid debt resumed in October 2022.
For more information on payment plans and assistance programs, visit lbwater.org/billhelp. For questions or concerns, call (562) 570-5700.