Water4All is a new water billing discount program designed to create more equitable access to water assistance for more Baltimore City residents. Ordinance 20-468, the Water Accountability and Equity Act, is a comprehensive law that provides for an Office of Water-Customer Advocacy and Appeals, a Committee for Office Oversight, a right to administrative and judicial appeals, a Water4All discount program, and a fair process for customers before water services are cut off or liens imposed.
Baltimore City struggles with aging water systems that disproportionately impact Black residents in terms of quality and cost, and residents have seen significant increases—30% over 3 years—in water billing both as a result of and response to infrastructural issues as the city tries to repair critical systems. Water4All is the realization of the 2019 Water Accountability and Equity Act. The law moves customers to an income-based water affordability program.
Water customers apply for water assistance online through Beam’s application, after completing a pre-screener. Tenants are eligible if the household income is 200% or less of federal poverty guidelines. Applicants provide income verification and proof of their water expenses, and the subsidy is calculated based on their income, percentage of federal poverty level, and water expenses. Approved tenants receive a cash transfer through Beam, either directly to their bank accounts or via prepaid card.
Within four months of Beam’s application opening, the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success has approved over $415K in Water4All subsidies for over 350 tenant households. The median time to claim funds after verifying eligibility is only 3 minutes—tenants are able to receive their funds quickly and easily after being approved.