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Diocese of Lake Charles

LAKE CHARLES — Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana is partnering with the City of Lake Charles to help residents pay overdue water bills.

The idea originated from the city’s concern over the high volume of water bill accounts becoming extremely past due in light of economic struggles.

Sister Miriam MacLean, R.S.M., director of Catholic Charities, said the nonprofit agency has always been committed to helping people through difficult times and get them back on their feet.

“It is such a gift that we are able to have another resource through the city to help people be able to keep their water on,” said Sister Miriam. “Dealing with two hurricanes, we know what it’s like to not have water here in Lake Charles.”

The water/sewer utility service bill payment assistance program is funded by the city and managed by Catholic Charities for the benefit of customers in Lake Charles who have been adversely affected by COVID-19. The temporary hold on water disconnections is coming to an end.

Catholic Charities will assist with $200 per household or three months of delinquent water bills between March and November of 2020, whichever is greater. Assistance will only be granted once per household.

Even though so many people are suffering and tired, especially after the hurricanes, Sister Miriam said the water assistance program offers a little sign of hope and some normalcy, which is not a lot these days.

“From a faith perspective, we might ask what is the normalcy we are looking for? It is these ways of helping one another,” Sister Miriam said. “We are ultimately growing in faith and growing in our love for the Lord and allowing this to be an opportunity to grow in virtue.”

Catholic Charities is expecting to be able to help between 400-500 citizens with past due water bills.

The following information is required to process each request:

  • Proof of income (copies or scans of paystubs, SSI, child support, etc.) Please include all forms of income.
  • A copy of the water bill of which you are requesting assistance.
  • A copy of the ID of the person on the bill.
  • Release of information form for Catholic Charities to get your information on water bill from the city.
  • Release of Information form for Catholic Charities to put your information into Charity Tracker.
  • An application form.

All forms may be accessed online at www.catholicharitiesswla.com or picked up at the office of Catholic Charities, 1225 Second St.

Sister Miriam said qualifying for the water assistance program through the partnership does not disqualify someone from other types of assistance offered by Catholic Charities. However, a household won’t be able to apply for additional assistance at the same time.

“Because we expect a high volume from this partnership, people will need to apply at a later time to be assessed for other needs,” said Sister Miriam.

Catholic Charities helps with rental and mortgage assistance, food and utilities, funeral expenses, prescription medication and TWIC assistance. Clients are seen by appointment only.

For questions about the application process for the water assistance program, call Catholic Charities at 337-439-7436 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. To apply for any other type of assistance, calls are taken only on Monday.

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