SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday announced the extension of three emergency assistance programs that help residents, small businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SFPUC’s Emergency Residential Community Assistance Program was initially launched in May 2020 to help residential customers struggling to pay their water, sewer and power bills.

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The program was set to expire in June of this year, but under the newly announced extension, the program will now last through March 2022, SFPUC officials said.

Depending on household income, some residents who apply for the program could receive as much as 35 percent off sewer bills, 30 percent off Hetch Hetchy power bills, and 15 percent off water bills.

Additionally, the Emergency Nonprofit and Small Business Program providing nonprofit organizations and small businesses affected by the pandemic with 20 percent discounts on their water, sewer and power bills will be extended through March 2022. That program, which began in July 2020, was also set to expire in June of this year.

Finally, the SFPUC also announced it will extend suspensions for water and power shutoffs that are due top late payments, postponements of liens and collections, waiver of late fees, and rental payment deferments.

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The SFPUC Commission voted to approve the extensions on Tuesday.

“As vaccines continue to roll out and Californians practice safe social distancing and mask wearing, we are seeing the health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic finally wane, but the economic ramifications of this deadly disease are still being felt,” SFPUC acting General Manager Michael Carlin said in a statement.

“If our city is going to fully recover from the pandemic, our families and businesses need to be financially stable, and for that to happen, many of them will need help paying their utility bills for the near future. We know that we are all in this together,” he said.

According to SFPUC officials, since its launch, the Emergency Residential Community Assistance Program has helped more than 5,239 residential customers, saving them a monthly average of $50 on their bills.

Also, prior to the pandemic, the SFPUC’s Emergency Nonprofit and Small Business Program had just 50 customers enrolled. However, since mid-March 2020, more than 1,000 nonprofit groups and small businesses have enrolled and have received an average monthly savings of $219, SFPUC officials said.

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