In an effort to help certain customers affected by the end of the Winter Termination utility moratorium on March 15th, Senator Brian P. Stack introduced legislation this week that would extend shutoff protection for residents waiting to hear back from the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) on whether their assistance application has been approved.
“Since early on in the pandemic, a utility moratorium has been in place to assist residents struggling to pay their bills due to circumstances beyond their control,” said Senator Stack (D-Hudson). “However, the Winter Termination moratorium ends today, and there are still thousands of residents waiting to hear back about their assistance application. If a resident has filed an application for assistance, and they have not heard fr0m DCA, they are currently stuck in limbo as they await their approval. It is evident that many of our residents are in need of immediate assistance and we must continue to help them as we work to emerge from the pandemic.”
Under the bill, S-2356, customers would have 60 days to submit a complete application once the process is started. DCA would be required to submit a decision of approval or rejection within 90 days of receiving the application. Utility companies and the DCA would work together to verify that customers have actually submitted an application for utility assistance.
Additionally, the bill would also add protections to residents who submit an application prior to June 15th.