Philadelphia’s water shutoff moratorium draws to a close on Sunday, March 31st, and residents are expressing concerns about the future of water shutoff protections, mainly the “Raise Your Hand Initiative,” implemented in 2023 by the Kenney Administration. The program has provided uninterrupted access for one of the most important necessities a person can’t live without – Water. Brian Rademaerkers, Public Information Officer for the Philadelphia Water Department, said: «This initiative has served as a crucial safeguard, particularly in the Hunting Park area, exempting citizens from water shutoffs until the end of 2023.» Residents urgently needed relief programs with sky-high inflation rates, and some would say price gouging in the food industry.

While inflation has been regulated, many, especially those on fixed incomes, still feel the pinch of high prices on utilities and food. Publicly available City data shows that residents in predominantly Latine neighborhoods of Hunting Park have experienced some of the highest rates of shutoffs and accounts in arrears years, which means they are likely to be heavily impacted by the lifting of shutoff protections and moratoriums. Matilde D., a longtime Hunting Park resident whose property has a “tangled title,” expressed the need for these programs. “I use these programs to pay what I can without being scared of getting shut off. I want to pay my bills, but I’m low income, and it’s hard.”

The possible end to the Raise Your Hand Initiative in 2024 leaves questions for many residents, especially older adults, including Latine and Limited English Proficient (LEP) households. Rademaerkers explained, » We offer the documentation in Spanish and use translation services over the phone for other languages.» This is an essential step in getting diverse communities enrolled. However, uncertainties remain about the Raise Your Hand Initiative.

Credit: Philadelphia Water Department (PWD

Utilities such as the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW), PECO, and the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) all have a moratorium on shutoffs during the winter months, which serves as a failsafe for people who may struggle to pay bills and whose service interruption could prove life-threatening.

Additional programs can protect you from shutoffs and help pay the bill. Philadelphians receiving the Low-income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), Tiered Assistance Program (TAP), Senior Citizen discount, or receive homeless prevention services are protected from water shutoffs. LIWHAP and TAP provide support with water bill payments to eligible low-income residents. Applicants can also be screened for any of these services at Esperanza, a community-based nonprofit in Hunting Park, by calling 215-324-0746 and requesting an appointment with a Benefits Access Specialist.

Programs like the Raise Your Hand Initiative should be preserved, and other utilities could help countless people by implementing shutoff protections as well. While Raise Your Hand was 2023 specific, inflation has not eased for those who are the most vulnerable, and all people still need water.


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