By Leena Ali
Low-income families in Halifax can now get help with their water bills.
Halifax Water and The Salvation Army have teamed up to create H2O – Help to Others – a water assistance program.
The program, which was implemented on April 1, is designed to help households pay for the cost of residential and waste water in an emergency, primarily when no other financial resources are at hand.
The total water bill for an average household in the HRM is roughly $475 per year but the rates will be going up soon.
Halifax Water’s public relations coordinator, James Campbell, admits,“We have to increase rates and of course it will be hard on some families.” Campbell says the program was introduced in order to help the problem.
H2O is the first program of its kind in Halifax. Its base funding will be $25,000. Another $50,000 could come from employee contributions and matching funds from the company.
Halifax councillor Dawn Sloane estimated that about one third of the population could benefit from the program. Those people include seniors, the working poor and those on a fixed income. “The biggest thing is to tell people about it and get the communication out there,” says Sloane.
Halifax councillor Dawn Sloane discusses the benefits of the new water assistance program.[audio:http://peninsula-news.kingsjournalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/final.mp3|titles=final]
“We certainly encourage those who are in need to apply for the program,” says Campbell.
|“H2O Online Application”|
|The Salvation Army|
Campbell says it is still uncertain as to how many families may receive assistance until all applications are obtained. Applicants who are approved under the program will receive funding once in a 24 month period, up to $200.
“For low-income families who may have problems paying their water bills, this program will apply money directly to their account in order to keep the water flowing,” says Campbell.
Applications are available at The Salvation Army on Gottingen St. and at Halifax Water, 450 Cowie Hill Rd.