Your Free Guide to Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)

Your Free Guide to Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)

Understanding the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)

The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is a federally funded initiative designed to assist families and individuals struggling to pay their water bills. This program provides financial aid, helping ensure that everyone has access to clean, safe, and reliable water, a basic human necessity.

However, unlike some other federally funded programs, individuals don’t receive the money directly. Instead, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides money to states, territories and tribal nations. Each state, territory and tribal nation that applied to receive LIHWAP funds operates independently.

Those agencies then use the money to pay utility and water companies on behalf of individuals and families who have past-due water bills or have had their water service stopped. The money goes straight to the companies, not to the individual or family.

Individuals and families can’t apply to LIHWAP directly. However, depending on the state, territory or tribal nation, residents may be able to apply with their county of residence to notify their local LIHWAP agency of their interest in receiving help. In other cases, low-income individuals and families who meet local LIHWAP regulations may automatically be identified through public water service records. 

LIHWAP Contact Information

The table below contains contact information for LIHWAP agencies in states and U.S. territories that participate in the program. 
Note: an asterisk (*) indicates that the corresponding state or territory does not have a LIHWAP grant.

Who Can Benefit from LIHWAP?

The primary beneficiaries of LIHWAP are low-income households who find it difficult to pay their water bills. This includes families, elderly individuals, those with disabilities, and other marginalized or financially challenged groups.

Similarly, individuals and families who have had their water disconnected or who are at risk of receiving a shutoff notice may benefit from LIHWAP. Although, as mentioned, they cannot receive money directly; if they meet the qualifications, they may have their local LIHWAP agency pay past-due notices on their behalf to the public water utility company.

LIHWAP Benefit Amounts

LIHWAP functions by providing financial aid directly to the water utility company on behalf of eligible households. The total amount of assistance may vary based on factors such as the household income, size, and the average cost of water in the locality.

The table below shows the average household benefit amount in participating LIHWAP states and territories. Note: an asterisk (*) indicates that data for the corresponding state is not readily available.

StateAverage Annual Household Benefit Amount
American Samoa$118
New Hampshire*
New Jersey$841.32
New Mexico$593.72
New York$1,387.20
North Carolina$255.68
Puerto Rico$400.17
Rhode Island$312.08
South Carolina$173.03
South Dakota$233.25
Washington D.C.$543.80
West Virginia$216.65

LIHWAP Eligibility Criteria

States, territories and tribes have the freedom to determine their own criteria for approving households for LIHWAP. However, there are federal limits to keep in mind. These are either:

  • 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or
  • 60% of the state median income.

To determine if a household may qualify for LIHWAP benefits, states, territories and tribes may analyze the following documents and information:

  • Proof of income for all members of the household
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of financial hardship
  • Proof of having received or being at risk of water shutoff

It’s important to contact your local community services agency for the most accurate information on eligibility criteria and application processes.

Tips to Reduce Water Consumption

Reducing your water consumption can not only save you money but also contribute to environmental sustainability. Here are a few easy-to-implement tips:

  • Install low-flow fixtures and appliances.
  • Repair leaking faucets and pipes promptly.
  • Use water-efficient gardening practices, such as drip irrigation.
  • Only run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Collect rainwater for outdoor use.

What to Do If Your Water Gets Shut Off

If your water service gets shut off, first, contact your water utility company to find out the reason. If it’s due to non-payment, you can usually explore options such as payment plans or emergency assistance. 

Contact your local community services agency for help and information on potential resources. Your state may have additional resources other than the LIHWAP program that may be able to help.

Other Ways to Pay Your Water Bills

If you’re having trouble paying your water bills, consider the following alternatives:

  • Local charities and nonprofits: Many organizations provide assistance to those struggling to pay their utility bills.
  • Payment plans: Your utility company may offer payment plans to spread out your bill over a longer period, making it more manageable.
  • Energy-efficient upgrades: Investing in water-efficient appliances and fixtures can lower your bill in the long run.

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