Requests to Pay Water Bills on the Rise at Interfaith Ministries

- For 35 years, Interfaith Ministries has provided Wichita County and Holliday residents with assistance paying their bills. In the past those bills have mostly been rent, electric and gas. But with water in such short supply, requests to help pay water bills have been on the rise.

Interfaith Ministries officials say once Wichita Falls started Stage 5 water restrictions nearly three months ago, they started receiving more requests to help pay water bills. And now that city leaders recently approved a 53% water rate hike, they expect requests to pour in.

Interfaith Ministries officials say that hike is leading to an increase in the number of people asking for help paying their bills.

Byron Francois says Interfaith has seen a 40% increase in requests for help to pay water bills once Stage 5 restrictions started. But he says monthly water bills that averaged between $42 and $55 are now much higher.

"Since that increase has taken place we've seen bills almost double in size.  The average bill we've seen this week so far... roughly...  has been $102," Francois says.

He says the highest bills have been more than $200. It's a fact that worries residents like Stephanie Boyd.

"That bill is gonna affect everyone in the house, what you're doing, how much water you're using and it just seems kind of unfair," Boyd says.

Unfair, but unavoidable. And Interfaith Ministries is there to help qualifying residents pay those bills.

Interfaith officials say for now, they have enough money in their utility fund to handle requests for help with water and other bills. But they say if requests continue coming in they will need more donations to help cover high water bills, as well heating bills when when cold weather finally returns.

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