New Financial Assistance Program Helps Small Business and Nonprofits Pay Water and Sewer Bills

With many customers facing the tough reality that the COVID-19 pandemic is not going away anytime soon, and the SFPUC understood the kind of pressures that puts on the business and nonprofit communities as they work to recover.

Last week, the SFPUC launched a new program that will provide 20 percent discounts off water and sewer bills to help small businesses and nonprofit organizations cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Offering discounted sewer and water rates for small businesses and nonprofits can help them focus their resources on their core services. The SFPUC is doing its small part to help these entities emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient.

To qualify for the 20 percent discount, small businesses and nonprofit organizations must show the following:

  • An active water and wastewater account from the SFPUC that is not for residential of municipal use. The account must be in the name of the nonprofit or business, or in the name of its owner and manager. Landlords and property managers cannot apply on behalf of their tenants.
  • A demonstrated loss of income related to COVID-19 or the shelter-in-place orders that are resulting in financial hardships.
  • A maximum of 50 full-time employees before the shelter-in-place order began on March 16.
Small businesses and nonprofits can visit sfwater.org/commercialcovid for more information.

The discount program will be available until December 31, or until funds for the initiative run out.
The discount program follows the SFPUC’s successful launch in May of an emergency residential discount program for residential customers suffering loss of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
That initiatives offers discounts of 35 percent off sewer bills, 30 percent off Hetch Hetchy Power bills and 15 percent off water bills for eligible customers. To date, nearly 5,000 residents have applied for that discount, which was enacted on a short-term, emergency basis.

The SFPUC already offers discounted rates to customers whose income makes them eligible under federal guidelines through its Community Assistance Program (CAP). The agency is working to proactively reach out to customers who may qualify for this longer-term savings program. Customers in those programs will continue to receive benefits following the expiration of the emergency CAP expansion.

SFPUC customers can learn more about other bill relief programs at sfwater.org/billrelief.

Along with launching the residential and nonprofit and business assistance programs, the SFPUC has suspended water and power shutoffs due to late payments. The agency has also postponed liens and collections, waived late fees and provided rental payment deferments for tenants of our facilities.

The SFPUC also partnered with its private contracting firms to support more than 45 small businesses in the Bayview with $150,000 in grant funding. In addition, the agency worked with NextEra Energy Resources to provide $170,000 for COVID-19 relief efforts in Blythe, California—a community in Southern California that will supply renewable energy to nearly 380,000 CleanPowerSF customers in San Francisco.