HOMESTEAD (CBS4) – Homestead residents will no longer be able to pay their power bills in cash.

In February, the city said they will no longer accept cash payments at their Customer Service Office across from City Hall. This change will affect more than 10 thousand residents, many low-income immigrants who don’t have a bank account or internet access, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.

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The Homestead city council unanimously approved the change during a meeting on November 10th. Vice Mayor Judy Waldman said the Customer Service Center will remain open to answer questions and field complaints. She added that no longer accepting cash at the service center will reduce the chances that it could become a robbery target. More than three million dollars passes through the service center each month.

For residents who don’t have a bank account, the city will accept money orders from Western Union, which charges between 60 cents and $1 per transaction. It’s undecided whether the city will pay this additional cost.

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The immigrant advocacy group We Count! said the change will hurt thousands of hard-working families who live and work in the city and don’t trust banks.

“It’ll be a challenge for them. Many people living in rentals are undocumented immigrants who don’t trust banks,” We Count!’s Levis Torres told the paper. “Many worry that if they open an account, that somehow they’ll lose access to their own money in the future.”

Not covered by Florida Power & Light, Homestead is one of only 34 municipalities in the state with its own electricity services.

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