Tualatin implements utility bill assistance program

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Some Tualatin residents have already discovered a new city program to help them with their utility bills.

The City of Tualatin has partnered with the Community Action Organization of Washington County to implement the program, according to Tualatin Assistant Finance Director Matt Warner.

Under the plan, eligible residential customers facing extreme financial hardship can receive assistance on their utility bills up to $300 per year. “Working on the program design, it was important to us for this to be an ongoing program rather than a one-time assistance payment.” Warner said. 

Cathy Hayes, the city’s Utility Billing Technician, added, “We have been working to get the word out. There was information in the recent water bill, and so far, we have already received four approved applications.” Information on the program was also included in the city newsletter earlier this month. 

Partnering with Community Action is helping to streamline the process, according to Warner, because “the organization is already working with our customers in the community who have a need,” he said. “The goal of the program is to get assistance in the hands of those with the most need so we haven’t set a maximum number of applicants. It’s not a first come-first served program, and we are hoping to identify those who need the assistance.”

Eligible residents must have a household income at or below 60 percent of the Oregon annual median income for the past 60 days. Also, people may be eligible for the program if they are already actively involved in one of seven programs.

These include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Women, Infants, Children (WIC); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Oregon Health Plan (OHP); Free and Reduced Lunch; Energy Assistance Program; or Public Housing, Section 8 Choice Voucher Program or Project Based Voucher Program.

Community Action is handling the application and qualification process “because they do this all the time, and they are already doing the qualifications for several other programs,” Warner said. “It’s their skill set.”

After customers qualify, Community Action notifies the city, and the city will start crediting their utility accounts.

People can start participating in the program at any time, but they must reapply each fiscal year, which runs July 1 to June 30.

Warner expects more people to apply as the word spreads and the news travels, “but we don’t know how many will ultimately apply,” he said.

The program initiated from discussions during the 2023-24 budget cycle, and funding was approved by the Budget Committee last spring. The City looked at the programs in place at some of the neighboring cities and put forth a program that  felt  right for the Tualatin community. The program was adopted by the City Council in December.  

Customers can apply for the program by visiting Community Action’s website at tinyurl.com/4mk98v4z. Additional information can be found by visiting the city’s website at tinyurl.com/ypxmr6xa; or by calling the city at 503-691-3056 or by calling Community Action at 503-615-0771.