Dana DiFilippo | November 21, 2022 | NJ Monitor |
Almost 150,000 households in New Jersey owe nearly $45 million in unpaid water bills, but they can’t access federal aid that absolves arrearages because most of the state’s utilities don’t participate in the assistance program.
So a Democratic state lawmaker from Camden County aims to fix that by setting new rules and penalties for utilities that resist joining a federally funded program that offers financial assistance to low-income residents.
Under a bill sponsored by Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez, water companies that don’t participate in the program would be prohibited from shutting off service or placing liens on the properties of low-income customers for nonpayment. Utilities also would be required to inform customers of the program on water bills and their websites.
Violators would face fines of $500 for every day an overdue customer’s service is shut off and $100 for every time they fail to communicate the customer’s eligibility for the program.
Only 118 of nearly 600 water and sewer companies in New Jersey participate in the program, according to Cruz-Perez’s office. Customers can’t receive aid unless their utilities enroll in the program.
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