Call it a Christmas present from the City of New York.
Nearly 52,000 homeowners– most of whom are living on fixed incomes– will receive an automatic credit of nearly $116 on their next water bill, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd announced Thursday morning. The credit, which is part of the mayor’s Home Water Assistance Program, amounts to a 25 percent water bill reduction for most recipients.
Homeowners across the city know all too well the costs of using water in New York City, as water rates have been increased annually for most of this century. Still, the city moved to soften the fiscal blow for homeowners in 2015, with the New York City Water Board approving a 3.24 percent increase– touted as the lowest rate hike in decades– as well as a rate freeze for any homeowner who uses 100 gallons or less per day.
“The holidays can be expensive, and this credit will provide some much-needed relief to low-income, senior and disabled homeowners,” de Blasio said.
Many Queens lawmakers were quick to praise news of the water rate credit.
“This $115 credit from the DEP will surely brighten the holidays for many working-class families and provide a much needed boost in the new year,” said Assemblyman David Weprin.
“No family should see their savings depleted or face the prospect of their water being shut off for not being able to pay their utilities,” added Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “This new credit will make a real difference this holiday season in keeping water rates affordable for our most vulnerable citizens.”
City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who chairs the Council’s Finance Committee, said the Home Water Assistance Program “has been a huge relief for low-income New Yorkers.” Her colleague in the Council, Donovan Richards, said the refund helps, but vowed to continue fighting for reduced water rate increases in the future.
“High water rates have been a problem for many low-income, seniors and disabled homeowners during the last few years,” he said. “While we work to lower water rate increases across the city, every refund helps ease the burden on financially strapped New Yorkers.”