The public assistance program Operation Fuel is offering to help low-income Connecticut residents pay their water bills to address what they are calling a “growing crisis” when it comes to paying for basic needs.
The organization met with the Metropolitan District, the Department of Public Health and local legislators Wednesday to offer financial assistance for greater Hartford residents who are struggling to pay the water bills.
“There’s a lot of struggling families right now in Hartford that need a lot of help,” Angel Sanchez said. “Thankfully, I don’t have to pay for water, but people that do pay for water, they definitely need help.”
Annually, Operation Fuel helps an average 7,000 low-income Connecticut households pay their energy bills. The organization’s goal for the new year, according to executive director Brenda Watson, is to expand their services in water assistance.
“The cost of food is high,” Watson said. “The cost of transportation is high. The cost of housing is high. All of those things combined make it very difficult for people not making minimum wage or working two-three jobs just to make ends meet.”
According to a recent ALICE report, the United Way found more than 500,000 Connecticut households struggle to pay for basic needs, including heating and water.
Operation Fuel has already begun offering minimal assistance for 28 MDC customers in Windsor.
Susan Raggo Social Services coordinator for the town of Windsor, said it’s already helping struggling families get back on their feet.
“That’s pretty humiliating when you can’t even use your own bathroom in your own house because you don’t have water or you’re at risk of having your water shut off,” Raggo said.
With help from the legislation, Operation Fuel is looking for creative ways to use a $20,000 grant to serve as many qualifying families in the greater Hartford area as possible.
“Let’s try to think out of the box,” Raggo said, “and [look at] how can we help people keep their water on.”