Memphis water bill assistance.

Low income and struggling customers in Memphis and Shelby County Tennessee may be able to get help with water bills from payment plans and one time financial assistance. The primary resource available is known as Plus-1, and it is administered by the non-profit Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA).

The program was created to help pay utility services, including water and sewer bills, for people in need. This can include low income families with children, senior citizens, the disabled, and people facing a financial emergency or shut off. The program was created in 1982, and since then millions of dollars have been provided to families across the greater Memphis and Shelby County Tennessee region.

The Plus-1 program can provide financial help for water bills. Recipients of the aid currently come from all walks of life, backgrounds, religions, and areas of the county. Emergency cash assistance is offered for people who are facing unexpected and genuine hardships such as recent unemployment, loss of income, debilitating illness, a medical emergency, or to individuals whose financial resources are thoroughly exhausted and have no other options. In other words, any assistance for past due water bills may only be offered to families that are out of options and that have explored all other programs in the Shelby County area.

With the weak economy, demand is high. For example, each and every month Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association receives almost 1000 requests for various types of utility assistance, including water and sewer bills. However because of the assistance program's limited funds, only about 20% or so of these families will receive Plus-1 assistance for paying water expenses. However, to those who do not receive aid or who may not be fully qualified from all terms and conditions, payment plans or referrals may be offered. The contribution from Plus-1 in Memphis makes the difference to customers between being able to keep the water on in their home and cook their meals, and living in a more difficult hardship scenario.

The program is funded by customer donations and contributions. Currently Memphis Light, Gas and Water customers fund the water bill assistance program through one-time cash donations that are tax deductible. Some customers may also add a dollar or more to their monthly utility or water bill each month in order to give back to the community. Generous donations from customers across Shelby County help thousands of people every year avoid a shot off of their water.





Plus-1 works in the following manner. The non-profit Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association acts as a collection agency for those contributions referenced above that go towards Plus-1. The non-profit then forwards all money contributed directly to local MIFA centers each month. In turn, MIFA accepts applications and administers the funds to the low income.

The organization cooperates with other local charities and non-profit agencies to see that the financial assistance reaches those in the community who have the greatest need for help. The Memphis Plus-1 program offers one-time cash assistance and grants. Or if a staff member thinks a payment plan is a better solution in a certain scenario, then they can help the household set one up.

Keep in mind that the resource serves as a stop gap and a program of last resort to those in need in the Memphis Tennessee community, and the program is not an on-going source of assistance for paying water bills. So this is one time support from the non-profit.

If you need more information or Plus-1 assistance for paying your water or sewer bills, please contact Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association at (901) 527-0208. They accept applications and can advise you as to whether you may qualify or not.




By Jon McNamara

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