Kingsport takes steps to assist delinquent utility customers
Local nonprofit organization offers assistance for low-income households
The City of Kingsport has partnered with the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency (UETHDA) to highlight a temporary emergency program to help low-income families pay overdue water bills.
The program is called the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) and is administered by UETHDA. LIHWAP is based on a combination of annual income compared to the number of people in your household.
A single person household qualifies if they earn less than $26,469. A household of two qualifies if they earn less than $34,613. A household of three qualifies if they earn less than $42,757. While a household of four qualifies if they earn less than $50,952.
If you qualify for the program, as long as you owe at least $10 on your water bill, you will receive a credit for $250. If your bill exceeds this amount, you may be credited for the larger amount.
If you need immediate assistance due to a cut-off notice, apply in person at the Kingsport Neighborhood Service Center at V.O. Dobbins (301 Louis Street). Please use the south entrance.
You will need to bring a copy of at least one social security card for someone in the home, a copy of a driver’s license or an ID card of the person completing the application, along with proof of income for the last 30 days for everyone in the home over the age of 18.
The LIHWAP program is scheduled to end September 30, 2023. UETHDA has dispensed $365,000 in LIHWAP funds throughout its 8-county service area with $1.3 million remaining.
For more information on applying for utility bill payment assistance, call UETHDA at 423-246-6180.
Under a measure recently approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the City of Kingsport now has the option – with the customers’ permission – to email the LIHWAP documentation directly to UETHDA, thus speeding up the application process.
If you plan to apply to UETHDA for assistance, ask to sign a permission form at the customer service window in City Hall.
Finally, the City of Kingsport has extended the time for customers to make payment arrangements for their delinquent utility bills.
Previously, city policy only allowed payment arrangements to extend six months and the water would be cut off if one payment was missed. Under a new policy, the extension is now 12 months and city staff have the option to delay cutoffs.
More than 500 Kingsport utility customers will be helped by this measure.
“This change in policy gives us and our customers more flexibility in resolving delinquent accounts,” said Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the failing batteries in some water meters, the city allowed some customers to accumulate delinquent utility balances. Now, Kingsport is beginning to work on delinquent accounts.
To avoid an interruption in service, you need to come to City Hall (415 Broad Street) and speak with a customer service representative (located in the first-floor lobby) about resolving your debt or making payment arrangements. Be sure customer service has your correct phone number.
If no arrangement is made, your water service will be disconnected.