The Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau offer the Utility Safety Net program to provide emergency utility payments for ratepayers with employment, medical and other personal emergencies.
The City Council authorized the utility safety net to help the City's sewer and water customers avoid the shut off of service if they have experienced a significant temporary change in household income. Safety Net is a last resort solution for these qualified customers who are unable to achieve a solution through normal payment options.
The Safety Net program is administered by the Portland Water Bureau and consists of four basic components:
- Deferred water shut-off
- Waiver of any recent delinquency charges
- Interest-free payment plans
- Financial assistance
When combined, these elements provide the time and means for customers to manage their way through a temporary crisis. The program is conditioned on responsible efforts by the customer to make regular, agreed-upon installment payments toward the payoff of past due account balances.
The City and the customer jointly determine the length of the deferral period and the number and amount of installment payments based on the size of the account delinquency and the depth or severity of the hardship. The conditions of the assistance result in a signed agreement and an initial credit is then applied to the customer's account. At the end of the agreement period, the City will apply an additional credit to further help the customer bring the account current.
The customer will return to a normal billing cycle once the agreement ends, or may work with the City to establish a new payment plan (outside of the Safety Net program) for any remaining outstanding account balance. The City may cancel the Safety Net agreement and revoke any financial assistance at any time a customer fails to meet the terms of the signed agreement.
For more information, go to Safety Net or contact Program Coordinator Brad Blake at 503-865-2651 or by e-mail.