Lee County programs to help families pay past-due water, power bills

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Running water. Credit: WINK News.

Lee County is prepared to hand out $3 million to cover past-due water and utility bills for families in need, with applications for two different assistance programs opening up Monday.

These two Lee County programs will help households with past-due bills, if said households have an income at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, for example, the maximum annual household income to be eligible for assistance would be under $49,000.

The Low-Income Home Water Assistance Program is new for Lee County, and staff estimates that close to 3,800 households will be helped. Another program, the Low-Income Home Energy Program, will help families with their past-due electric bills.

Lee County commissioners say that with inflation and rising costs, this money will make a difference for many.

“We hear from people every day about their bills going up; you probably even see it on social media, people talking about their power bill going up—people are really feeling the pinch of this inflation right now,” said Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman. “It’ll help you with past-due electric bills, even up to 12 months old… the most important thing that this program does is it helps prevent people from becoming homeless.”

The applications are available in English and Spanish and county commissioners estimate these programs will help over 5,000 families in Southwest Florida catch up on their bills.

“We estimate we can help 1,950 households with power and 3,700 families with water,” Hamman said. “The way it works is if you qualify and fill out the application, and everything like that, we’ll get the information and will pay your power bill or your water bill for you. So, the money goes directly from the government to either the power company or the water company.”

People can apply online or pick up an application at Lee County Human and Veteran Services, located at 2440 Thompson Street. These funds will be used through September 2023.

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