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As Pandemic Rages On, Columbus Offers More Utility Assistance

Utility meter face
Renee Gaudet

With more than 14,000 Columbus residents behind on utility bills, city leaders are using federal coronavirus relief money to give them a lifeline.

The city will use $2.5 million in CARES Act funding to help lower-income families who are unable to pay. People can apply to receive a one-time payment up to $750 for water and sewer charges, and up to $500 for power bills.

“We know that many residents are struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19, whether that be job loss or reduction in hours,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther in an emailed statement. “Through CARES Act funding, we are working to help residents meet their basic needs for clean drinking water and electricity with one-time payments toward overdue utility bills.”

To be eligible for the assistance, applicants must have an active City of Columbus water, sewer or power account for their residence in their name (or spouse's name), be at least 90 days delinquent in payment and meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Household income less than 150% of the current U.S. Bureau of Census federal poverty level
  • Currently enrolled in a qualifying low income program with Department of Utilities
  • Proof of job loss or reduction in income due to the pandemic

The program does not apply to AEP accounts or those located outside of the City of Columbus.
Funding is limited and provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Bill payment assistance cannot exceed the total current balance on a customer account. Approved customers will receive a one-time credit on their account.

In March, Ohio utilities paused shutoffs to ensure people had access to water, electricity and other utilities as the pandemic took hold. Many have been resuming shutoffs in recent months, while the city of Columbus has still opted to keep shutoffs on hold.