How data innovation helped heat more needy households 

Utility bills have a big impact on housing affordability for many Washingtonians. Commerce’s Housing Finance Unit recently used creative thinking to strengthen Seattle’s low-income community by identifying households eligible for the city’s utility discount program.  On April 20, the Commerce team was recognized with appreciation from the Housing Partnership Program and partners Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and the Seattle Human Services Department.

The data whizzes in our Housing Trust Fund program crunched numbers from the Web-Based Annual Reporting System (also known as WBARS), a statewide property management system. They used it to discover 13,000 homes that could be auto-enrolled in Seattle City Light’s utility discount program. Through auto-enrollment, households can skip a cumbersome application process and quickly see up to 60 percent reduction of their electric bills.

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