Park Forest residents having difficulty paying their water bill may be able to tap into a new village fund aimed at providing some relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new Park Forest Community Cares fund allows residents recently unemployed or underemployed to apply for financial assistance.
Social service agency Respond Now will partner with the village on the program by reviewing applications and screening applicants. Eligibility is restricted to Park Forest residents who can show proof of recent financial hardship.
If approved, a credit of up to $200 will be applied toward an applicant’s water bill.
Park Forest board members in May began discussions on how to provide relief to residents feeling the pinch due to the coronavirus pandemic which at its height saw unemployment near 15 percent – the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. Board members unanimously voted to freeze Park Forest water rates for the 2020-21 fiscal year which were set to increase by five percent.
In addition to the water rate freeze, Park Forest Trustee Maya Hardy encouraged the village to take an additional steps by implementing a new fund to aid residents recently out of work, or on reduced hours.
“This water bill can be very challenging,” Hardy said. “I’m willing to fold up my sleeves and look into this and hopefully get this started.”
Trustee Candyce Herron agreed.
“The water bill is high and it can be difficult to try to pay.”
Trustee Glenna Hennessy also expressed her belief that relief was needed.
“I want to add my voice to thanking Trustee Hardy, too. It’s creative and it’s necessary.”
Applications are now being accepted for the new Park Forest Community Cares Fund. Those who receive assistance through the fund are not eligible for repeat assistance for two years.
Those interested in contributing to the Park Forest Community Cares Fund to help a family in need may make one-time donations by clicking on the link below, selecting Donate Now at the bottom of the page, and then selecting PF Community Cares under Payment Type.
For more information, or to inquire on the possibility of receiving assistance through the fund, call 708-755-4357 or visit villageofparkforest.com/communitycaresfund
In addition to creating the new fund to aid residents currently experiencing economic hardship, Park Forest board members also slashed $2.3 million from the village’s 2020-21 budget in response to the coronavirus.