Chicago program helps keep the water on for struggling residents

Chronicle Media

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces the city’s new program that will help keep the water on for residents struggling with utility payments. (Photo courtesy of city of Chicago)

The city of Chicago has launched a program to provide assistance and relief to those having difficulty paying their water bills because of economic setbacks.

Utility Billing Relief (UBR) provides low-income Chicago residents with a reduced rate on their water, sewer, and water-sewer tax as well as debt relief for those who demonstrate they can manage the reduced rate bills for one year.

Benefits for UBR participants include:

  • A reduced rate on water, sewer, and water-sewer tax
  • No late payment penalties or debt collection activity including water shut-off
  • Debt forgiveness after successfully completing one year with no past due balance

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the program Monday, July 6.

“The Chicago Utility Billing Relief Program represents our latest step in bringing long overdue financial support to residents who have struggled with their bills, forcing them to choose between paying for their water and other essentials, and in many cases succumb to debilitating debt,” the mayor said at the press conference.

“In the second city, we believe in second chances. Water is a basic human right,” Lightfoot said.

Operating in partnership with the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County (CEDA), who operates the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the UBR program will utilize their expertise and extensive network of partner organizations to conduct outreach and enroll homeowners.

For more information, call 312.744.4426 or email


  • Who is eligible?

Homeowners who reside in their single-family homes and 2-flats who meet the LIHEAP income eligibility criteria.

  • What if my name is not on the bill?

In order to be eligible to participate in the program, you must be the property owner, reside at the address and your name must appear on the bill as the customer. If you are the owner of the property and your name is not listed on the bill, contact 312-744-4426.

How to Apply

  • If you have applied and qualified for a LIHEAP benefit within the past 12 months, you can check if your property qualifies and apply using the Simplified UBR application. You will need:.

Chicago utility bill account number

PIPP ID or LIHEAP DVP ID, or associated utility account number (ComEd, Nicor or People’s Gas)

Program Benefits

  • Fifty percent on water, sewer and water-sewer tax going forward (garbage fees are not included).


  • After successfully completing the first 12 months of the program, your previous unpaid balance will be forgiven.

Application Process

  • The same documentation required for a LIHEAP application and your City of Chicago utility account number.
  • Proof of identity and proof of income for all members of the household regardless of age or legal residency.
  • If you don’t have access to your City of Chicago utility account number, you can call 312-44-4426 to request a copy of your bill.
  • Processing time for applications is up to 30 days from the receipt of the complete UBR application.
  • If you are approved, you will receive a welcome letter and enrollment confirmation.
  • If we are unable to approve your application for UBR, you will receive a letter in the mail with the reason(s) for denial. If you feel you were denied in error, contact 312-744-4426.