News Story (Pennsylvania)
Tricia L. Nadolny
September 7, 2015
READ THE FULL STORY HERE
Tags: Public Benefits
Organizations mentioned/involved: Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia
While the department ultimately collects upward of 95 percent of what it bills, the delinquency – about $18 million in fiscal year 2015 – adds up. Still, just 7,200 payers are enrolled in the department’s program for low-income households. In comparison, more than 61,000 are enrolled in a similar program offered by the Philadelphia Gas Works.
Advocates say the low enrollment is due to high barriers to entry, such as paperwork that can be difficult to obtain. Robert Ballenger, a staff attorney at Community Legal Services, which is helping craft the new program, said the process can take months.
Once enrolled, participants can receive an annual grant – often a few hundred dollars – that is spread over their monthly bills. Others are put on debt payment plans.