By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles residents that have fallen behind on their utility payments will now have more time to pay back their debts. 

The Board of Commissioners of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power voted to extend the moratorium on shutoffs until March 31, 2022 — the longest moratorium in the country.

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“We’re taking a comprehensive approach to implement new programs, streamline our process and remove obstacles to make it easier for customers to receive assistance,” said LADWP director of customer service George Rofail. “

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The board also unveiled a plan to use state funds to help hundreds of thousands of financially strapped customers pay their bills.

According to the plan, the city expects to receive $183 million of rent relief from the state and it will help the 247,000 customers using LADWP. 

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The plan also includes crediting the state funds directly to customers’ accounts, using a $15 million program to help customers pay off past due accounts prior to the pandemic and extending payment arrangements.