Rising utility costs nationwide are becoming a growing burden for families alongside other economic pressures like inflation.
In Atlanta, gas and electricity bills have risen by at least 20% since 2019, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Statewide, residents paid 37% more than the U.S. average on monthly gas bills between 2018 and 2021, the seventh-highest rate in the nation during that time.
As utilities are on the rise, some service providers have already started shutoffs for customers who are behind on payments.
On Jan. 2, the city of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management announced that it would begin shutting off water for as many as 27,000 residents with delinquent, unpaid bills. The customers affected will range from single-family residences to commercial locations.
The controversial move is the first instance in 12 years that the city has shut off services due to nonpayment.
There are some resources available on the city, county, state, and federal level to help alleviate the excessive costs associated with basic utilities.
We created a breakdown of local programs to help you find resources to catch up on those bills.
Here’s what you need to know.
City of Atlanta Programs
City of Atlanta Care and Conserve Water Assistance Program
This city-operated program helps moderate-income customers with payment and plumbing assistance funded by grants from local nonprofit organizations. Eligible customers must have a past-due balance of $300 or more to qualify and must be the primary customer and resident in the property for which assistance is requested.
Residents can apply online or call the Care and Conserve office at (404) 546-3620 to request an application by mail.
United Way of Greater Atlanta 211 Contact Center
United Way of Greater Atlanta 211 Contact Center is a comprehensive service that connects families with community resources such as financial emergency assistance agencies near them. You can simply dial 211 or call (404) 614-1000 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The nonprofit organization has also developed an online interactive tool where you can input your ZIP code and specific need to find aid near you. Head over to their website to check it out.
Metro Atlanta Programs
Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority Programs
The Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority offers several assistance programs, including the Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program, the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program and the Community Service Blocks Grant, to income-eligible households to help with energy and water bills. Income eligibility varies by household size.
To learn more information about programs offered, deadlines, and eligibility, you can check out their website here. Aid ranges from up to $500 payments toward utilities to emergency assistance.
DeKalb County Department of Family and Children’s Services Rent/Mortgage/Utility Assistance Program
The DeKalb County Department of Family and Children Services currently has funds available to assist households who have experienced an unexpected crisis or emergencies that have resulted in late, overdue payment on essential bills like gas and water.
Eligible residents include DeKalb County residents in a one or two parent household with minor children under 18, elderly residents age 60 and above, and a current past due or disconnection notice from your provider.
If you are eligible for relief, you can download the DFCS application here.
Tillman House Foundation Utility and Rental Assistance Program
Tillman House, the outreach sector of Smyrna First United Methodist Church, provides utility and rental assistance to Cobb County residents living in ZIP codes 30060, 30080, 30081, 30082, 30126, and 30339. Interested individuals must apply in person at their location at 940 Concord Road SE in Smyrna.
Don’t forget to bring a valid government ID, a copy of your utility bill, and a letter stating why you need assistance.
You can also fill out an online form on the website, or call the front desk at (770) 435-0851 for immediate assistance.
Cobb County Electric Membership Corporation Payment Assistance
This program services residents living in most of Cobb County, and parts of Fulton, Cherokee, Paulding, and Bartow counties. Residents can reach out directly to the service provider for questions and information regarding payment assistance.
Feel free to contact the program directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (770) 429-2100 to learn more about payment arrangements.
Gwinnett County Water Payment Assistance Program
Gwinnett County also offers the federal LIHWAP to its residents through the Georgia Community Affairs Authority designated office, Partnership for Community Action Inc. You can find details online or speak with a customer care advocate at (678) 376-6844.
Gwinnett County Critical Support Program
Gwinnett County offers its residents several support programs aimed at aiding in helping with financing and unexpected emergencies, including assistance through the federal funded LIHEAP.
To get in contact with officials for Gwinnett County, you can call (404) 657-3427 or visit the GCAA’s designated office, Partnership for Community Action Inc., at 3597 Covington Highway in Decatur. Utility assistance applications can also be completed online.
Gwinnett County Cooperative Ministry Utility Assistance Program
Co-op Ministries provides up to $150 per client in a 12-month period for customers who have received a shutoff notification from their service provider. There are multiple co-ops in the county; each one has a different website. The volunteer organization helps provide wellness and service programs.
To find out your Gwinnett Co-op Ministry and more info, click here.
Clayton County Community Service Authority Inc. Utility Assistance Program
The Clayton County Community Service Authority offers a range of services, including LIHEAP and LIHWAP, to low-income families who are facing difficulties in paying their utility bills.
For more information, including eligibility requirements, key applications dates, and general information, you can check out their website here.
Clayton County Water Authority Assistance Programs
The Clayton County Water Authority provides three forms of payment assistance to eligible county residents that range from one-time payments of up to $200 to rolling discounts over a 12-month period.
While the application for the Hardship Assistance Program is closed until further notice, residents who are eligible for the Low-Income Discount Program or the Military Discount Program can head to CCWA’s website for more information on how to apply.
State and Federal Programs
Low-Income Housing Water and Energy Assistance Program
This federally funded program provides payment assistance to low-income residents with past-due bills, and $200 to $300 advances toward future bills for those who are currently up to date on their payments.
Interested residents can find out their income eligibility based on household size through the federal benefits website.
Georgia Power Community and Customer Assistance
Georgia Power has partnered with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to pay more than 200,000 outstanding utility balances statewide for qualifying applicants.
To be eligible to apply, you must be a Georgia Power customer and rent within one of the 294 identified ZIP codes. To find out if you are eligible, head to the GDCA’s website.
The Salvation Army’s Project SHARE Program
Project SHARE provides emergency bill payment assistance of up to $500 to individuals and families facing a temporary crisis that threatens their home, including imminent eviction and utility shutoff.
Eligible residents can find the program criteria and apply online here. You can also call for information at (770) 441-6200.