Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) announced Tuesday it is rolling out a new emergency assistance program for low-income families, funded up to $1 million, in response to the current state of emergency.

The program will provide a utility credit of up to $250 toward TPU bills for single-family households that are within 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

“This is an uncertain situation for all of us,” Jackie Flowers, director of Tacoma Public Utilities, wrote in a statement. “For many of our customers, the state of emergency as a result of COVID-19 presents a significant financial hardship.”

Eligibility requirements for the new program will allow for more help to be given to more customers than TPU’s existing bill credit assistance plan.

“By making these funds available and expanding the eligibility guidelines of our bill assistance program, we can support significantly more households during this state of emergency,” said Karen Larkin, chair of the TPU board. “We are proud to be part of this community, and it is crucial that we are there for our customers.”

This new program is just one of many steps TPU is taking in response to COVID-19. Other response initiatives include:

  • Payment plans may be extended to 12 weeks and late fees may be waived for residential and business customers;
  • New precautions have been put in place for dispatchers and field staff when visiting homes to curb the spread of the virus to both customers and employees;
  • Employees have been asked to telework if possible;
  • Large events have been postponed or canceled;
  • Additional sanitation efforts are underway at TPU facilities;
  • TPU’s lobby will be closed to the public effective March 18.

When the city’s state of emergency ends, the program will continue until the funds have been exhausted or until they are no longer needed. Until then, Flowers urges customers in need to reach out.

Customers can apply by calling (253) 502-8600 or visiting TPU online.