HHS Releases New Report on Low Income Household Water Assistance Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a new report on the Agency’s Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). The report highlights that by June 30, 2023, “LIHWAP had served over one million households, restored water and wastewater services 85,131 times, prevented disconnections 569,529 times, and reduced 490,838 water bills.” Of the households served, 53% had incomes at or below 75% of the Federal Poverty Level.

The program was set up in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and the need to ensure water access to combat the spread of the virus. Congress authorized $1.1 billion in emergency funding to assist low-income households struggling to pay their water bills by making direct payments to owners and operators of water systems on their behalf. This funding included $638 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA 2021) and $500 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP 2021). LIHWAP funds were awarded to 49 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, and 97 Native American tribes and tribal organizations. The original closeout dates for the CAA and ARPA LIHWAP grant awards were September 30, 2023 for obligation and December 31, 2023 for liquidation of all funds. Eligible LIHWAP grant recipients could request a six-month extension for their LIHWAP grant award, extending the obligation deadline to March 31, 2024, and the liquidation deadline to June 30, 2024.