Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that the State of North Carolina has been awarded more than $38 million in federal funding to establish a new water assistance program for households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning Wednesday, eligible households that have had their water services cut off or have received notice that their water services are in danger of being cut off can apply for assistance in paying their bill through a new federal program called the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP).
LIHWAP is a temporary emergency program that will help eligible households and families afford water and wastewater services. The program provides a one-time payment for eligible low-income households directly to the utility company. LIHWAP runs through September 2023 or until the funds run out.
“Due to the pandemic and its impact on our economy, many households are struggling to maintain their water service,” said Tara Myers, NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Employment, Inclusion and Economic Stability. “The LIHWAP program will help families in North Carolina keep their water running, a basic human need that’s critical for good sanitation and better health.”
Households that currently receive Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Work First services, or those that received Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) services between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, are automatically eligible to receive this benefit if their water services have been cut off or are in danger of being cut off.
All other households that have had their water services or are in danger of losing it can apply starting December 1, 2021, 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 Department of Social Services to apply by phone.
Beginning January 1, 2022, all households that are not in danger of having their water service cut off can apply for assistance if they meet the eligibility requirements. To be eligible for the LIHWAP program, a household must have at least one U.S. citizen or 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; and
♦ Be responsible for the water bill
Households can apply starting Wednesday through September 30, 2023, or until funds are exhausted.
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.