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LIHWAP - Low Income Household Water Assistance Program.

Low-income households can receive financial assistance to help pay residential water and wastewater service bills. The federal government is providing grants from the LIHWAP progra. Find how to stop a disconnection of water service and how the working poor, elderly, disabled and others can get help. The government resource is also known as the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program. Find how to apply for grants and assistance from LIHWAP.

There is both one time assistance as well as emergency water bill assistance from LIHWAP. The main goal is to help low-income families, the elderly and/or disabled keep their water or sewer service connected. This assistance is aimed at preventing disconnections and restoring services that had been terminated for non-payment.

LIHWAP grants are available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, and more than 100 Native American tribes. It operates in a very similar fashion to LIHEAP – but of course this resource is for paying water and/or sewer bills.

Access to safe, affordable drinking water and wastewater/sewer services is essential for every person's health and well-being. LIHEAP helps low-income families pay for heating, electric or light bills, but there are other costs that make up a households utility expense. Since water affordability has become an increasing concern, LIHWAP was created to assist. Costs are also going up as many communities have faced water shortages and safety challenges due to aging infrastructure.

How to apply for Low Income Household Water Assistance Program

All applicants are screened. There are income and asset requirements for households that are requesting financial assistance. In addition, any grants to pay water bills are provided to participating utility companies – not the applicant. In total, almost 10,000 water and wastewater service providers are involved in the program.

LIHWAP funds can help pay existing water bills. In addition, the grants can be used to reconnect households that have been disconnected from water and wastewater service. So both reconnection as well as shut-off prevention is provided, as the financial aid from the government can be used to stop the shut off of water for households that are at risk for disconnection. Funds can also be used to initiate rate reductions and assist households struggling with water and wastewater affordability.

 

 

 

The process to obtain LIHWAP benefits begins by applying for assistance through one of the more than 1,000 local community organizations that administer the program. See locations below. Eligibility requirements and benefit amounts differ by state, territory, and tribe, and the local LIHWAP program administrators set the eligibility guidelines and payment amounts for their region.

Who Is Eligible LIHWAP grants

In general, to be eligible for LIHWAP assistance, household income must be at or below 150% of the federal poverty line or 60% of the state's median income level, whichever is greater. This is based on household size and number of members in the home. Since median income differs by state, a four-person household in one state may have substantially more income than a family in another state, but both will qualify for benefits.

Income generally includes wages, salaries, and tips. Income does not include SNAP benefits or assistance provided by some other federal programs. Medical expenses are generally deductible from gross income. Income can be proved by pay stubs, benefit award letters, bank statements, and other sources.

If a person in the household is enrolled in another means-tested program such as SNAP, TANF, SSI, LIHEAP, or certain veterans' programs, the household is considered eligible for LIHWAP assistance and will not need to go through a new financial screening. The applicant just needs proof of receiving other public assistance.

Applicants must be residents of the state in which they live and reside at the service address. The utility bill must be in a household member's name unless water or wastewater service is included as part of rental payment and the utility bill is paid by the landlord. This in effect means that people that rent their home can also get emergency financial help from Low Income Household Water Assistance Program. Household members must be U.S. citizens or eligible immigrants.

In cases where rent payments include utility costs for water and wastewater service, benefits can be paid to a utility company on behalf of the landlord for eligible households. This needs to be proved on the application. Landlords receiving this assistance are required to provide the household with a rent reduction equal to the benefit received.

 

 

 

 

Applicants to the federal government created LIHWAP water bill assistance program must provide names and dates of birth for persons residing in the household as well as Social Security numbers and proof of income. This includes children, grandparents, caregivers and others. Current copies of utility bills and any notices threatening disconnection of service will also be required. There is no restriction on the timeframe during which the overdue amount was incurred.

Applicants must receive service from a community water system or a wastewater treatment provider that is enrolled in the program. However as noted most corporations and states are part of LIHWAP. Persons using private wells and septic systems are generally excluded. However, exceptions can be made for wastewater service providers that serve a community of income-eligible households.

For example, in some rural and tribal communities, the local government contracts with a company to periodically remove septic tank wastewater for the entire community. Organizations administering LIHWAP grants may authorize payment to those service providers.LIHWAP  Low income water bill assistance

Payment of Benefits

Once your application is processed, you will be notified if you are eligible and the amount of financial assistance for paying a water bill you will receive. Or you will be notified if a grant from LIHWAP will help pay to pay a deposit. The amount a household receives to pay past-due water or sewer bills differs depending on location, income, and the amount of past-due bills.

Assistance is often provided as a one-time payment that is sent directly to the water company or waster company. This is the case whether the government program is paying past due bills or whether the funds are for a connection fee. Regardless of the amount paid in any location, the financial assistance is considered a grant and does not need to be repaid.

If a past due bill has been transferred to a third-party debt collector, LIHWAP funds can be paid to that agency rather than the utility company. If a lien has been placed on the residential property where service was delivered, payment may also include administrative fees charged to the household.

Contact information for low income families that need help with water bills

Community Action agencies administer the program is most cities and counties. LIHWAP targets households facing the greatest risk of losing vital services and helps to ensure these basic necessities remain affordable and available, especially to the vulnerable such as single mothers, the disabled or elderly.

 

 

 

 

Struggling families can apply for LIHWAP benefits through a local Community Action Agency (CAA). Established in 1964, CAAs are private nonprofit and public organizations that both (1) process government grants on a local level and (2) combat poverty in specific geographic areas. Low-income households, seniors and the disabled can apply for everything from LIHEAP to Low Income Household Water Assistance Program or other services. Find a community action agency near you.

 

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By Jon McNamara

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