February 16, 2008

Daley Announces All Clear Plan to Help CHA Residents With Electric Bills

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

The Chicago Housing Authority and Com Ed will subsidize a two-month program called "All Clear" through which more than 3,700 CHA leaseholders who owe $500 or less will get the chance to clear their accounts with the utility.

"The "All Clear" program is another example of the outstanding relationship between government and the business community in Chicago, Daley said.

"It's a great source of our city's strength that we have businesses such as Com Ed who demonstrate their commitment to community by improving the well-being and quality of life for all Chicagoans," he said.

Here's how the program will work:

In the two months between today and April 15, any CHA resident who owed Com Ed $500 or less on their December bill can have the account cleared by paying half of what's due.

Com Ed and the CHA will pay the other half and all finance charges will be forgiven.

"Of course, this assures continuous electrical service and, just as important, it helps the CHA resident stay in compliance with their lease and removes some stress from their lives.

They can use their own money to pay the bill or they can use money from other utility help programs, such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funded by the federal and state governments," Daley said.

The money for the LIHEAP program is limited and it's given out on a first-come, first-served basis, so it's important for people to apply right away if they need help. They can do that by contacting the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County. (1-800-571-CEDA)

There is still LIHEAP money available this year, in part thanks to a $1 million contribution to the fund made by Bank of America to help qualified low-income Chicago residents with winter heating bills.

Daley reiterated that the goals of the CHA's Plan for Transformation in public housing are to replace unsafe high rise buildings with 25,000 new or rehabilitated units in mixed-income communities and to transform the old, isolated developments into vital communities where economically self-sufficient residents of mixed income levels live together in a neighborhood with good schools, jobs, shopping and housing.

"That is the long-term goal to which we are committed and we are delivering on our promises," Daley said.

"But many of our CHA residents face challenges that need to be solved immediately so that the road to self-sufficiency is a bit smoother. The "All Clear" program helps accomplish that," he said.

The mayor also reminded all Chicagoans there are a number of other utility help programs in place that they that they can and should apply for, particularly to help them get through the cold weather.

The City budget sets aside $640,000 for winter heating assistance. That amount is contributed to the “Share the Warmth" program created by Peoples Gas and administered by the Salvation Army.

The program provides matching grants up to $200 for eligible Peoples Gas customers who are having trouble paying their gas bills.

The Department of Senior Services offers a "Flex Spending" program that started last year under which qualified seniors can obtain a one-time payment of up to $1000 to help pay utility bills or meet other needs.

"No one should suffer this winter because they've run short of money," Daley said.