North Carolina is earning national recognition for its success in helping low-income families through a new water assistance program for households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has helped more than 20,000 households pay their water bills and keep access to water services since Dec. 1, 2021. North Carolina was awarded more than $38 million in federal funds for the program and has distributed nearly $7 million to date.
LIHWAP is a temporary emergency program to help eligible households and families afford water and wastewater services. The program provides payments for eligible low-income households directly to the utility company. LIHWAP runs through September 2023 or until the funds run out.
Individuals can apply online at epass.nc.gov. Individuals can also apply by printing a paper application from epass.nc.gov and dropping it off at or faxing it to their local county Department of Social Services or by calling their local county DSS to apply by phone.
To be eligible for LIHWAP, a household must have at least one U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and:
- Have income equal to or less than 150% of the federal poverty level
- Have household services that are disconnected, in jeopardy of disconnection or have a current outstanding bill
- Be responsible for the water bill
Households can apply through Sept. 30, 2023, or until funds are exhausted.
"I am so proud of North Carolina’s efficient work to get these resources out to our families to keep their water running," said Tara Myers, "NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Employment, Inclusion and Economic Stability. "Access to water is a basic human need that is critical for both health and well-being, and the LIHWAP program is helping many families impacted by the pandemic."
The federal Administration for Children & Families, which administers LIHWAP, celebrated North Carolina’s success with a new video spotlight. The video shows the impact of LIHWAP on North Carolina families and includes Tenika Hicks, a program beneficiary, as well as NCDHHS Senior Director for Economic Security Carla West and Wake County Economic Services Director Liz Scott. Produced to mark the one-year anniversary of the American Rescue Plan, the video includes an introduction by Gene Sperling, White House Coordinator for the American Rescue Plan.
For more information on this program and eligibility, visit the LIHWAP website at www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/social-services/energy-assistance/low-income-household-water-assistance-program-lihwap.