Officials with El Paso Water announced Thursday that through partnerships with Project BRAVO and Amistad, their customers have received water bill assistance this year totaling $1.1 million.
This funding was made possible because of federal CARES Act funding distributed by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the City of El Paso to Project BRAVO and Amistad, respectively.
Utility officials say that, in the last six months, more than 2500 customers facing economic hardship due to COVID-19 and who met income eligibility requirements received utility assistance.
“Additional federal stimulus funds were given to Project BRAVO and Amistad for customer utility assistance,” said Marcela Navarrete, EPWater Vice President of Strategic, Financial and Management Services. “Without our partner agencies, it wouldn’t be possible to help some of our customers get back on track with their water bills.”
In 2020, more than 2000 customers received water bill assistance totaling $685,000. This includes CARES Act funding received by EPWater, Amistad, Project BRAVO, along with donations from an EPWater employee fundraiser.
At the height of the pandemic, EPWater suspended disconnections for nonpayment and kept the suspension in place for a full year but has since resumed the normal collection process.
Project BRAVO, established in 1965, is the designated Community Action Agency for El Paso County. The non-profit assists families living in poverty through various grants and funding sources.
“We saw a new group of people, who had never experienced poverty, come to us because they could not pay their bills,” said Laura Ponce, Executive Director of Project BRAVO. “We were able to help people in and out of the city limits.”
Since 1976, Amistad has provided assistance to some of the most vulnerable members of the community. During the pandemic, Amistad saw a greater need in El Paso for their services.
“We are grateful to have a partnership we can leverage to assist thousands of people in our community, and we are extremely proud of our team for making this possible,” said Celia R. Garcia, Chief Operating Officer of Social Services at Amistad.
Financial assistance is still available for qualifying residents through Project BRAVO and Amistad. EPWater is offering extended payment plans. These are available to all customers, whether or not they qualify for the grant assistance.
For more information, call Customer Service at 594-5500.