On Wednesday, April 19th, residents and representatives of the Mercer County community gathered at Trenton City Hall for Community Utility Assistance Day. Dozens of individuals gathered in the City Hall atrium, where they were met with representatives from local, county, and state organizations, all ready and eager to help. During the event, citizens had access to an abundance of programs and resources that can help to significantly lower utility costs and make day-to-day life more affordable. This event is just in time for Utility Assistance Week, a statewide initiative devoted to helping New Jerseyans keep utilities accessible.
Utility Assistance Week is an initiative launched by the NJ Board of Public Utilities and the NJ Department of Community Affairs. During the week, initially launched in 2021, these organizations will amplify assistance programs to those newly eligible to apply and those struggling financially. This initiative came in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many families unable to make ends meet. However, through assistance programs and meaningful resources, families are empowered to stay afloat and thrive.
The event started with remarks by the Mayor of Trenton, Reed Gusciora, followed by a panel of representatives, including North Ward Councilwoman Jennifer Williams, BPU Commissioner Zenon Christodoulou, and Sean Semple, Acting Director of Trenton Water Works. In his remarks, Mayor Gusciora stated, “This is a fantastic day to help people, and we’re here with the NJ Board of Public Utilities to connect Trentonians to programs that can save them money and help prevent service terminations.” In addition, he stated, “This week, BPU is our friend, and thanks to programs from the State of New Jersey, we’re able to reach out and help community members to keep their services on.”
“Mayor, I just want to correct one thing – we’re not just friends this week; we’re friends every week because we have a great partnership going,” stated BPU Commissioner Zenon Christodoulou. “This week, as you know, is Utility Assistance Week, and Utility Assistance Week is an opportunity for so many residents who may have found it difficult over the past several months or perhaps several years to stay current with utility bills. Now I know the utilities and the BPU don’t always agree, but we can agree on this: we are here to help customers, and we understand that life happens.”
Continuing, Christodoulou said, “We know how tough life can be. We know it, we’ve lived it, and we’ve all benefited from many of the programs we’re here helping promote today and this week. So that’s why events like this week are so important, and that’s why the BPU is proud to partner with so many great community organizations to do the things that we are all in charge of doing.”
In her remarks, Jennifer Williams noted, “Thank you to the BPU, the Commissioner, and all the partners who are here today because getting the word out to everyone in Trenton is so important, particularly in a bilingual city.” Councilwoman Williams went on to emphasize the importance of dispersing this information in the community and that we cannot assume that our neighbors are aware of all the available help. “We need to make sure that the folks that need help get it now, so I cannot be happier this is happening. I welcome you all here, as does the Mayor and the BPU Commissioner, and please let’s get that information out there to everybody.”
The morning’s remarks closed out with a statement from Sean Semple, Acting Director of Trenton Water Works, who directed attendees to all of the programs TWW currently has available. “I know this has been a hard year; we all have our fallbacks, so please visit one of our booths, and we can provide the help that you need.” With the completion of the remarks, the day was officially underway, and Trentonians from all walks of life had the chance to go booth to booth to see what services were available. An afternoon of conversation and connection was just what the community needed, and we could not think of a better way to ring in Utility Assistance Week in the Capital City.
If you missed the day’s event, do not worry! Assistance is still readily available for any New Jerseyan in need. To read more about available programs, please visit the BPU website here: Programs – NJ BPU. In addition, agencies across the state and throughout the community are here to help, so do not hesitate to take advantage of the resources in the Garden State.