Riverside residents financially impacted by the public health orders that stopped some workforce activity amid the coronavirus emergency may be eligible for credits on their utility bills under a program unveiled Thursday by Riverside Public Utilities.
“Riverside is blessed to have its own utility, which provides us with the ability to provide this kind of custom program for our customers in an emergency,” Mayor Rusty Bailey said. “I’m proud to see RPU step up with another way to help our residents in such a challenging time.”
The City Council on Tuesday voted to allow RPU to develop a relief pathway for residents, and the result is the COVID-19 Emergency Recovery Assistance Program, or ERAP.
Under the program, $5 million in the city’s budget will be designated for credits on customers’ bills. Officials said a one-time $250 reduction per qualifying customer will be available. Outright bill forgiveness is not permitted under state law, officials said.
“Thousands of residents are unemployed or furloughed due to temporary business closures, while other businesses are open but struggling financially,” according to a city statement.
ERAP is retroactive to March 1, and according to officials, up to 20,000 residential customers can take advantage of the program if they can document proven hardship.
Under its March 17 emergency declaration, the city instituted an embargo on all utility shutoffs for customers’ nonpayment of invoices, to remain in effect for three months after the emergency order is rescinded. However, that does not mean bills won’t have to be paid. Officials said customized payment plans can be established with RPU.
Customers interested in applying for credits were encouraged to go to www.RiversidePublicUtilities.com/Assistance for further details, including qualifying criteria.
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