Live in DeKalb County? Need some help with your plumbing or mounting water bill debt? The DeKalb Cares Water Repair Program may be the solution for you.
On Aug. 1, 2022, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners announced that residents across the county would see a 6% increase in water and sewer bills to fund more than $2 billion in improvements to DeKalb’s water and sewer infrastructure.
The increase is reportedly the first instance in seven years that the county moved to raise prices for customers. The news also came nearly a year after the county ended its long-standing moratorium on the county’s Department of Watershed Management disconnecting services due to nonpayment.
With utility rates on the rise nationwide, Black citizens are increasingly facing the growing burden alongside other economic pressures like inflation.
In DeKalb, disconnection efforts are underway for customers who have missed payment for the last six billing cycles.
While some residents have complained about abnormally high water bills caused by a variety of plumbing issues, here’s a solution that may aid in helping you get your water bill under control for no-cost.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is the DeKalb Cares Water Repair Program?
A county-operated service that provides no-cost plumbing to low-income residents who reside inside DeKalb County.
The program is operated by the county’s Community Development Department and operates on a yearly cycle.
Is there an application process? Am I eligible to apply?
The county is currently accepting applications for the program. The application deadline is Dec. 31, 2023. In order to apply, you must be a DeKalb County resident in need of repairs at your primary residence.
The program has income restrictions based on household size. To determine eligibility, a homeowner’s total household income must be at or below 60% of the Area Median Income defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The current income criteria is:
- $40,500 for a one-person household
- $46,350 for a two-person household
- $52,080 for a three-person household
- $57,840 for a four-person household
- $62,520 for a five-person household
All applicants will be required to submit eligibility documents.
The application can be obtained in person at the Community Development office at 178 Sams St., Suite A3500, in Decatur, or online here.
I’m eligible, so what happens next?
If you are approved, the county will do inspections at your home to determine which services you require.
Once approved inspections are completed, qualified plumbing contractors will complete all the eligible repairs with no charge to you.
What services can I expect to receive?
While the program is free, only these four services will be provided:
- Private sewer lateral remediation
- Septic to sewer conversion
- Water leaks (high water usage)
- Water leaks (inclement weather issues)
If you are facing any other issues, you may be required to seek private plumbing services.
What if I don’t qualify for this program? Are there any other services to help with water or utility issues?
There is still assistance available for you.
The DeKalb DWM has dedicated over $8.5 million to multiple customer assistance programs that aid in payment assistance, including Partnership for Community Action, Urban League of Greater Atlanta, DeKalb Cares (DeKalb County Community Development Department) and the Tenant-Landlord Assistance Coalition.
The DeKalb DWM offers payment plans to those who may be behind on their bill and require assistance as well. To set up an installment plan, customers should call (404) 378-4475, or email email@example.com.
If you feel that your bill is incorrect, DeKalb County also has a dispute resolution process. For disputes, affected customers should call (404) 371-3000.
The DeKalb Division of Family and Children Services has funds available to assist households who have experienced an unexpected crisis or emergencies that have resulted in late, overdue payment on essential utility bills.
If you are eligible for relief, you can download the DFCS application here.
Other federal and state resources like the Low Income Housing Water Assistance Program and The Salvation Army’s Project Share Program are available to eligible residents.