Metro Government announces expanded benefits, streamlined intake process for LG&E Utility Assistance Program
In response to financial challenges and other barriers that some individuals and families are still experiencing as a result of COVID-19, Mayor Greg Fischer today announced expanded benefits and a more streamlined intake process for Metro COVID-19 Utility Relief Funds allocated to help LG&E customers pay outstanding balances.
Metro COVID-19 Utility Relief Funds were announced last fall and launched in January to help residents with outstanding balances on their LG&E bills that occurred from March 20, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020, as well as Louisville Water Co. and MSD bills from that same period. Funding came from Louisville Metro Government general fund dollars freed up by federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act) funding in other areas.
Louisville Water and MSD have expended all of their $4 million fund allocation, assisting more than 12,500 customers, largely through a company portal set up to quickly respond to requests for aid. They also worked with the Community Ministries to allow their employees to help individuals apply for the credit as they worked with them on other issues. They also used a multi-layered communication plan with stakeholder outreach, fliers in grocery stores, digital campaigns and a postcard and text to customers who were eligible.
LG&E utilizes a different portal allowing service providers to check an applicant’s current bill and pledge payments based on eligibility. In a continued partnership, LG&E and the city’s Office of Resilience and Community Services are working with Neighborhood Place and the Association of Community Ministries to expedite the application process for eligible customers.
The Association of Community Ministries has streamlined the intake process with a new centralized portal that allows applicants to pre-screen and apply for assistance by answering a few questions on a mobile device, computer, or tablet. A Ministries' representative will contact the applicant within one week after they receive the application. Find portal here: http://www.louisvilleministries.org/
Neighborhood Place also offers the option to apply online utilizing a secure portal at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/neighborhood-place
Also, effectively immediately, the time period for accrual of outstanding LG&E balances has been extended through the end of this month, and the maximum benefit has increased from $500 to $1,000. LG&E customers who have already received assistance may be eligible to receive additional help up to the $1,000 threshold.
“We recognize the significant and unprecedented challenges that many of our residents may be facing due to the COVID-19 outbreak, especially those who have experienced a loss of job or reduction of hours,” said Mayor Fischer. “We stand ready to help residents in need and are grateful for the work that Louisville Water, MSD and LG&E have done and are doing to help get residents get back on track in paying their utility bills. I also appreciate the work of our RCS team, Neighborhood Place, and of course, the Community Ministries that are the backbone of so much work to help our most vulnerable.”
Louisville Water and MSD
Vice President of Communications Kelley Dearing Smith said the utilities made it easy to apply for the Metro Relief Fund credit, building a portal where customers could check their eligibility, confirm they’d been finically impacted by COVID-19 and then apply for the credit.
Citing ongoing need, Louisville Water and MSD are keeping their portal open and have added another $500,000 for those customers with an outstanding balance between March 16 and December 31 of 2020. Dearing Smith said there is still a tremendous need for assistance, with approximately 10,000 customers behind on their Louisville Water and MSD bill. The utilities continue to explore options and work with these customers to offer payment plans and assistance through community agencies, she said.
Those eligible for the remaining Metro LG&E Relief funds must:
- Be a resident of Jefferson County
- Have experienced a COVID-related economic hardship
- Have a past due/delinquent LG&E electric or gas bill (arrearage must have occurred March 16, 2020 – March 31, 2021)
- Go to louisvilleministries.org and fill out an online application, or call 2-1-1 to connect with your local Community Ministry
- Schedule appointment at 502-977-6636, or visit louisvilleky.gov/neighborhoodplace (click on COVID Assistance for the option to apply online)
Qualified applicants will receive assistance based on the order received. The program will operate through June 30, 2021 or until funds are expended, whichever comes first.
For more information, http://www.louisvilleky.gov/government/resilience-and-community-services, call Metro United Way’s referral service at 2-1-1, or Metro311 by dialing 3-1-1 or (502) 574-5000 or email [email protected].