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Can’t Pay Your Phone Bill? Telephone Assistance Program Helps Residents “Stay Connected”

OLYMPIA, Wash. – PRESS RELEASE: Staying connected to local telephone services can improve and possibly save many lives, especially in these tough times, say state regulators.

Washington Telephone Assistance Program (WTAP) Awareness Week is September 12-18, to promote the telephone rate discounts that help residents maintain access to basic phone service.

The week is part of a national effort sponsored by the state Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA).

“Access to local emergency services and community resources is vital to all state residents,” says Jeff Goltz, chairman of the UTC. “We want low-income and elderly residents to ‘stay connected’ and are reaching out to those who need phone service but can’t afford it.”

Residents who participate in or are eligible for certain public-assistance programs, such as Food Assistance or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), are entitled to receive local telephone service for about $8 per month plus taxes and fees. WTAP also provides a reduced or no-cost service installation for qualifying households that do not currently have telephone service.

To apply for WTAP benefits contact your local landline telephone company and provide your DSHS client identification number.

In addition, the WTAP Community Voice Mail Program provides a free personal phone number and voice mailbox to qualifying residents in transition housing, because the line between a job interview and a job offer can be as thin as a telephone cord. Without voice mail, applicants cannot respond quickly to job offers and may lose the chance to work.

For more information on the WTAP program, contact DSHS at 1-888-700-8880 or www.dshs.wa.gov. For information on the Community Voice Mail program visit www.cvm.org.

If you have problems signing up for WTAP benefits, call the UTC at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882) or visit www.utc.wa.gov/consumer.

The UTC is the state agency in charge of regulating the rates and services of telephone companies operating in Washington.

Last modified onMonday, 07 November 2011 06:48

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