BALTIMORE — As the government shutdown continues to its 24th day, the city of Baltimore is trying to help those who are temporarily out of work.
Last Friday over 800,000 workers did not get their paycheck because of the shutdown. On Monday, Mayor Catherine Pugh announced federal workers who are furloughed can wavier their water bills with a valid ID or their furlough letter.
“This shutdown – now the longest ever – is creating financial constraints on hundreds of thousands of hard-working people, many of whom live in Baltimore,” said Mayor Pugh. “They deserve our compassion, and we can begin to provide that by not punishing our customers when their water bills get paid late.”
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The director of the Department of Public Works says impacted workers will now be eligible for water bill payment plans, allowing them to pay off their bills once the shutdown is over and they get their paychecks.
“DPW stands for public service, and the public servants who are going without an income deserve our consideration,” said Director Rudolph Chow. “Waiving late fees and setting up payment plans is one way we can provide some assistance.”
And Mayor Pugh says she doesn't want to just stop with waving water bills. On Monday she also sent a statement explaining how she is pushing all city and state mortgage lenders, creditors and major utility providers to provide every accommodation, including the waiver of late fees, for all furloughed Federal employees and contractors.
"Today, I am calling on all banks, mortgage lenders and other creditors operating in the City of Baltimore and State of Maryland to give every consideration to Federal employees and contractors during what may continue to be a prolonged impasse between Congress and the Administration. Moreover, I have instructed our Department of Public Works to give City residents who are either Federal employees or contractors additional time to pay their water bills without penalty, until this shutdown is ended. I have further contacted the leadership of BGE as well, which is developing a plan to likewise provide assistance to those Federal employees and contractors affected by the shutdown. In addition, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City has been instructed to utilize reserve funds in order to continue to pay employees, landlords and vendors. I am continuing to reach out to our financial institutions to urge their cooperation and accommodation for City residents affected by the prolonged furlough. It is unacceptable that Federal employees have become pawns in what is clearly a political game. I urge the Administration and Members of Congress to get our government back to work for the citizens of Baltimore, the State of Maryland - and our entire nation."
The enacted water bill waiver impacts all furloughed fed in both Baltimore City and Baltimore County. If you are eligible and would like to waiver your water bills, you can send a copy of your work ID, and/or a copy of your furlough letter. For a quicker response you can send a picture of your ID or letter to DPW’s Customer Support and Services Division, at DPW.Billing@baltimorecity.gov. Please also include the name, address, and account number, and indicate if you would like to set up a payment plan as well as a late fee waiver.
According to the DPW, any customer can request a repayment plan if you need help, just contact Customer Support at the email address above, or call 410-396-5398 to discuss your account. Customers with a household income within 175 percent of federal poverty level may qualify for a one-time credit of $236 toward a payment plan.