Families living close to (but not necessarily in) the poverty line can receive a discount on their monthly water bills from the Tiered Assistance Program (TAP) that is being offered throughout Philadelphia. The program will not only help low income as well as working poor families pay a reduced rate on their water service, but it will also in effect eliminate any arrears on the account.
It is projected that tens of thousands of households will be eligible for the discount. TAP will not only assist customers that are behind on their water bills, but it will also help people that have been paying on time but who are still struggling. Many senior citizens, disabled residents, or the underemployed may be qualified as they often live on a fixed income.
Applications are required. In general the families income needs to be at or below 150% of federal government poverty levels. This will also scale based on the number of family members in the home. So if there are more people, the applicants income can be higher; as long as it is still below the 150% poverty threshold. The federal government set this level each year.
All of the monthly payments to the Philadelphia Tiered Assistance Program will be based on income. Since this is the case, it will in effect provide the household with a discount as they can save money if their income is lower. The exact terms and conditions will be communicated to the family after they apply and are accepted.
Most clients will need to pay between 2 and 4 percent of their income towards their water bills. This still should still be significantly less than they are paying now. As the entire reason that Philadelphia created the TAP program was to save low income renters as well as homeowners money.
Not only will this provide a set discount to the customer, but another huge benefit is the consistency of the payment. The amount due for a water bill will be the same month in and month out; provided the customer does not abuse the privileged and run up usage to non-typical levels. In those cases the Department of Social Services and/or Water Department can investigate and take action if needed.
In addition to those criteria, the applicant does not need to be in arrears when applying to TAP. So they can have been paying their Philadelphia water bills on time and still apply. This is one difference of TAP then some of their other assistance programs out there.
However, if the customer is delinquent for any reason, then the Philadelphia Tiered Assistance Program (TAP) will in effect eliminate any balance due on the account. This is done within reason, and there is a cap in place. But the process will be effective in providing the customer a clean slate if they do not abuse the resource.
Applications can be processed in many ways. Or if a household needs more information on whether they qualify or not, they can get that too. Non-profit agencies including Community Legal Services (CSL), the Salvation Army, and other social service groups will be aware of the Philadelphia Tiered Assistance Program. So a customer can call on them.
However the most effective thing to do is to call the water company directly, as they can guide the customer through the process. In addition TAP is not a one time program either. Even if a family or individual is not qualified today, but their income declines in the future, they can apply at that later date.