On April 5, Helix Water District (HWD) launched the Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program —a one-time credit of up to $300 to help Helix Water District’s residential customers who live in a single-family home, are behind on their water bill and can demonstrate loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district is partnering with Home Start, a local nonprofit organization, to administer the program. Helix customers can apply for assistance online at home-start.org or at Home Start’s El Cajon office at 333 East Main Street in El Cajon.
When they apply, customers need to provide documentation that their household experienced a loss of income directly related to COVID-19. The full list of criteria and accepted documentation is available at home-start.org. Assistance is available on a first come, first served basis. Home Start will contact applicants based on when they received their application.
Because the district is legally prohibited from using water rates to assist customers, the board dedicated $500,000 from surplus land sales to fund the program. The Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program is expected to assist at least 1,400 households in need.
In March 2020, the Helix board voted to suspend late fees and shutoffs for nonpayment. In April 2020, they froze water rates.
HWD is also launching a new rebate program to help customers save water and improve their landscapes. Customers of Helix Water District are now eligible for rebates of up to $100 for qualifying plant-based mulch purchased and installed on or after April 12, 2021.
Landscapes thrive with the use of mulch. When applied over bare soil, it reduces outdoor water use by slowing soil evaporation and retaining moisture. Using mulch also helps add nutrients to the soil, prevents the growth of weeds and improves the landscape’s appearance.
“Our mulch rebate is a great way to reduce water use, maintain healthy plants and keep your landscaping looking great,” said Helix General Manager Carlos V. Lugo. “The program is funded through our wholesaler, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and we are really looking forward to providing this resource to our customers.”
To receive the rebate, customers must purchase a minimum of 1 cubic yard (27 cubic feet) of plant-based mulch. A cubic yard covers about 110 square feet and fits in the bed of a small pickup truck. Eligible vendors and service providers include landscape suppliers, tree-trimming services, recycling facilities or retail stores. Straw mulch is not eligible for the rebate program.
For more information and to apply for the rebate, customers can visit the district’s website at www.hwd.com/mulch-rebate.