Photo by Doris Morgan on Unsplash.


With case numbers again on the rise, it’s clear that Humboldt County has more COVID-related hardship ahead, and many residents will likely need financial assistance to help make ends meet as they suffer lost wages or other financial impacts brought on by the pandemic.

But the good news is that there are still financial assistance programs available to help. If you live in Eureka and are struggling to pay your bills because of COVID, you may be eligible to apply for the city’s Utility Assistance Program, which provides money to help cover unpaid water/ sewer, power or garbage bills.

Using COVID relief funds from the state’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the City of Eureka launched the program in April. At first the City could provide to $250 in assistance per month for two months. Now, Kristen Raymond — housing coordinator for the City of Eureka — says that with more state funding available, the program is able to provide up to $600 per month for three months to help cover people’s utility bills. And though that may sound like way more than enough to cover monthly utilities, Raymond says that some people are still struggling to catch up from months of late payments.

“Once we started getting applications in, we realized that some people were so far behind that $250 wouldn’t even make a dent in [their bills],” Raymond told the Outpost in a recent phone interview. “People were doing this juggling act, paying off little amounts at a time. ” 

Though the pandemic has prompted the City of Eureka and many agencies to place a moratorium on service shutoff for non-payment, this only delays the issue and people are expected to pay that money eventually. With this assistance, recipients can get caught up, instead of getting deeper and deeper in debt. 

So, how does it work? To be eligible for the program you must live in Eureka city limits and have suffered a loss in income due to the pandemic. For many people that means they either lost their job, had to stay home to care for a sick family member, or with their children because of school closures. But Raymond wanted to point out that these are not the only scenarios that make you eligible for assistance.  Many people also lost a secondary source of income, like mowing people’s lawns or driving deliveries. The loss in income does not need to be from your primary employment, Raymond said.

Since the funding is only to be used specifically for paying utilities, you also need to provide copies of the utility bills you are struggling to pay. Once you are approved, the City will pay the amount you owe directly to the agency, such as PG&E. The program can only be used to cover essential utilities, including water/ sewer, garbage or gas/electricity. Raymond said that there was consideration to pay for internet — which has also become pretty essential — but it was a little complicated, since many people’s internet service is bundled with cable, which is not a service that can be covered by the program.

After the City launched the program, employees reached out to people with overdue water bills to let them know about the financial assistance available to them. Raymond said that some people have applied, but there is still a great deal of funding available and the City would like to see more people utilize this program, especially as we will likely see more people be financially impacted by COVID moving forward.

Although this program only can assist with utility bills, Raymond did want to make sure the public is informed about financial assistance to help cover rent — something she says a lot of people ask her about. Previously the City of Eureka was offering a rent and mortgage assistance program, but all the funds have been distributed and the program is no longer operational. For those struggling to pay rent, there is still assistance available through California’s Housing is Key Program. You can find more information on how to apply here.

To apply for Eureka’s Utility Assistance Program, you will need to fill out this application and bring it or mail it to the City of Eureka’s Finance and Housing department — 531 K Street, Eureka CA 95501 — or email it to

You can email for more information, or call Kristen Raymond at 707-441-4209.