LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Low-income Los Angeles residents may begin applying for assistance with paying utility bills under a program that will provide federal financial relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City Council voted to put a total of $50 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds toward helping low-income residents pay their Department of Water and Power bills.

“Our low-wage workers continue to suffer in silence,” said Council President Nury Martinez, who authored the motion to create the program. “They are the first to put themselves and their families at risk through their essential work. I am unapologetically dedicated during this pandemic to help them get whatever resources they need to hang on and stay in their homes.”

The COVID-19 Utility Grant Program is operated in partnership with the Department of Water and Power and will distribute funding by a lottery system, but will prioritize funding for people affected by the pandemic who are already enrolled in the DWP’s low-income assistance program.

Los Angeles city residents who are DWP customers making 50% of the area median income or less will be eligible to receive $500 to assist with utility costs, which includes gas, cellular phone, wifi and internet/cable services.

The program is expected to serve up to 100,000 households, according to Martinez.

According to California Employment Development Department figures from last week, Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate fell in September, but it’s still at 15.1% and the labor force decreased during that time.

“Our low-income communities have demonstrated tremendous resilience and strength during this national public health emergency,” Councilman Curren Price said. “COVID-19 has hit the working poor and people of color the hardest, and it is up to their government to put forward a range of solutions that mitigate the challenges of this remarkable time in human history.”

Applicants for the funding must be a DWP residential customer with an online account during the enrollment period, which ends Nov. 15.

More information about applications and the Utility Grant Project is at ladwp.com/UtilityCares.

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