Memorial Day closure

Most City of Portland offices will be closed Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day.

Afloat: Utility Debt Relief

Two hands are shown holding yellow tomatoes under a faucet running water. Red tomatoes are on the counter near the sink in a brightly lit room.
The Afloat: Utility Debt Relief program is now closed

The Afloat: Utility Debt Relief program helped reduce utility debt for low-income households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services used American Rescue Plan federal funding to give bill credits to single-family residential sewer/stormwater/water customers. The application was open from March 7th to April 11, 2022. We received 2,601 applications. 2,004 accounts were eligible and received funding. 


The Portland Water Bureau (PWB) provides billing services for the City’s publicly-owned sewer/stormwater/water utilities. Due to the financial crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Portlanders have been unable to pay these bills. PWB estimates that since the onset of the pandemic, customer account balances have grown by $16.3 million.  

In collaboration with the Bureau of Environmental Services, the Office of Equity and Human Rights, and community partners the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH), Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) and Verde, PWB offered bill credits to help the most vulnerable Portlanders get payments back on track.  

Who does this program serve?

This program supported residential sewer/stormwater/water account holders who had overdue bills. Relief was offered as a bill credit for debt incurred due to financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, after March 13, 2020 to date.  

How do I apply for this program?  

The Afloat: Utility Debt Relief program is now closed. Applicants were accepted if all these were true:

  • You pay your sewer/stormwater/water bill to the City of Portland; 

  • You have overdue charges on your household water bill; 

  • You have been affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic; and 

  • You meet the income guidelines on this chart:

If you have this number of people in your house…Your total household income must be less than this number.


February 2022: Program details finalized and materials are sent out for translation.  

March 2022: Applications opened online and through community partnerships.  

April 2022: Direct outreach to customers, application period closed on April 11. 

May 2022: Selection Committee of community partners reviewed funding scenarios and made decisions about how to prioritize the limited funds.  

June 2022: Bill credits posted to accounts based on selection committee priorities. All funds have been distributed and the program is now closed.     

How was this program funded?

The City of Portland committed $2.6 million to this program. This money comes from the U.S. government’s 2021 American Rescue Plan local recovery funds. Portland will receive a total of $208 million from the American Rescue Plan and has until Dec. 31, 2026, to spend it. The City of Portland is spending money in three priority categories:

  • Houselessness Response and Household Stabilization
  • Small Business and Commercial District Stabilization
  • Community Health and Safety

Read more about these investments in this article: American Rescue Plan: Investing in Portland


We want to be transparent and accountable with how the City of Portland is spending American Rescue Plan money. Explore the different projects at our Rescue Plan Open Data website.