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Chicagoans Get A Break On Utility Bills Until April 30, But New Program For Low-Income Residents Put On Hold

Those behind on utility bills won't be sent to collections or default on their payment plans until after April 30, officials said.

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CHICAGO — Utility bills for Chicago residents are now due April 30 as the city moves to give quarantined and cash-strapped residents more time to pay.

On Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city would stop all debt collection, including parking tickets and car impound practices.

Additionally, late fees on defaulted payments on city debts will be paused, and no interest will be accrued. The city will also limit ticketing, towing and impounding for the time being and focus its efforts on public safety issues.

Those behind on utility bills won’t be sent to collections or default on their payment plans until after April 30, officials said.

However, a city program that promised to cut utility bills for low-income residents and families by up to 50 percent and to have past-due balances forgiven has been put on hold.

Residents who call the city’s utility customer service line will be greeted with a recording that says “As the city is focused on reducing the impact of corona disease 2019 (COVID 19), we are delaying the implementation of the utility relief program.”

City officials could not provide a new start date for that program.

In addition to having it’s attention diverted to stopping the spread of coronavirus, a customer service representative said another reason for the delay is that the city has not determined if the program will be administered by the Water Department or by CEDA, The Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, which currently administers a billing relief program that helps with electric and gas bills.

Despite the delay in implementing the utility billing relief program, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced last November that the city would stop shutting off water service due to unpaid bills.

This week, ComEd also announced it would be suspending disconnects for customers who are unable to pay their bills and would waive late payment charges through May 1. 

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