Low-income households affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can apply for assistance paying water bills thanks to a new program administered by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
This program, called the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), allocates $38 million in federal funding for temporary emergency assistance. LIHWAP offers a one-time payment for eligible low-income households paid directly to the City of Sanford.
Households are automatically eligible for LIHWAP if their water services have been cut off or are in danger of being cut off if they meet these qualifications:
- The household currently receives Food and Nutrition Services.
- The household currently receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
- The household currently receives Work First services.
- The household received Low-Income Energy Assistance Program services between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021.
Households that don’t meet the above criteria, but are in danger of water disconnection, may be eligible if their countable income during the base period is equal to or less than 150 percent of the current poverty level.
Households that are not at risk of having their water disconnected but need water bill assistance may apply starting January 1, 2022. These households must either 1) have one U.S. citizen OR 2) have a non-citizen and meet the following requirements:
- 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.
For Lee County, the Department of Social Services will administer the program. Households may apply at http://epass.nc.gov (select “Apply for Energy Assistance”) or by calling 919-718-4690. Paper applications are available in the DSS lobby.
Lee County residents who have fallen behind on their water or sewer bills can also apply for Sanford Cares assistance. Learn more about the program here.