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Nick Fish

Commissioner, City of Portland

phone: 503-823-3589

Email: nick@portlandoregon.gov

1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

Helping Low-Income Ratepayers

October 25, 2017

This morning, the Auditor released a review of the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services' utility financial assistance program. Nick shared this message with his colleagues:

Dear Colleagues,

Some of our neighbors need extra help paying their utility bill, especially during this housing crisis.

The Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services have a nationally-recognized financial assistance program.

Today, Auditor Mary Hull Caballero released her audit of the program. It affirms the work we're doing and offers common-sense guidance to strengthen the program.

I have directed the Water Bureau and BES to implement the Auditor’s recommendations, and to work to increase the number of eligible customers they serve.

A lot of work is already underway.

This summer we launched a year-long project to find and implement new ways to reach low-income Portlanders with our services.

This fall and through the upcoming budget process, the two utility bureaus will work with our public oversight bodies, the Portland Utility Board and the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon, to improve and strengthen the program in a variety of ways, including:

   • Helping cost-burdened renters in multi-family buildings.

   • Launching a pilot project to reduce monthly bills for people on a tight budget living in single-family homes.

   • Increasing the value of our crisis voucher.

   • Scaling benefits to better reflect household size.

I want to thank Auditor Mary Hull Caballero and her team for their comprehensive and thoughtful work. Audits are a valuable tool to assess where we are and how we can do better.

I also want to thank the dedicated staff at the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services who administer all of our customer service programs.

And I am always interested in your feedback. Email me any time at nick@portlandoregon.gov.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Nick Fish

Background

City Auditor Press Release

 

Utility Payment Assistance Audit Highlights

 

Utility Payment Assistance Audit

Media

Water Bill Assistance Program Still Misses Residents Who Need It The Most: Audit

Molly Harbarger in The Oregonian

 

Audit: Residents Need Help with Water Bills

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune