An emergency program helps low-income families in the area pay overdue water bills.
Applications for the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) are being accepted. People can receive one crisis grant for their drinking water service and one crisis grant for their wastewater service. Each grant can be up to $2,500 and will be paid directly to water utilities. The grants do not have to be repaid.
The past two years of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have caused health and economic insecurity for so many Pennsylvanians
Meg Snead, Acting PA Secretary of Human Services
People can receive water assistance even if they already receive utility or emergency rental assistance, provided they meet program criteria. Examples of crisis situations that can lead to grants being issued include:
- Water service has been terminated.
- People are in jeopardy of losing their water service in the next 60 days because they’ve receive a shut-off notice.
- They have past due water bills.
People can qualify whether they own or rent a home, provided they meet income criteria:
- Two people living in a household would have to earn less than $26,130 a year
- A four-person household would bring in less than $39,750 annually
A complete income eligibility breakout is available at the Water Assistance Program/LIHWAP at the PA Department of Human Services.
Before applying, people should gather the names of everyone in their household, their dates of birth, social security numbers and proof of income, and a recent water bill.
People can apply online.
They can also download a paper application, print it, fill it out and return it to the Allegheny County assistance office.
After the application is processed, people will learn the amount of their grant if they’re eligible.
LIHWAP is available because of the American Rescue Plan Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Pennsylvania has $43.2 million to provide water assistance grants.
People may see higher heating bills this winter. The cost of natural gas – a major source of fuel to produce the state’s electricity – has gone up. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help pay those bills. It’s based on income. It has three aspects:
- A cash grant of up to $1,500.
- A crisis grant for people who are facing a utility shut off.
- Weatherization to repair or replace a broken furnace, or reduce the cost of heating the home.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission recommends that people who are having difficulties paying their water, electric or heating bills call their utilities directly. Gas companies and electric companies are required by law to have customer assistance programs available.
People with utility issues can also contact the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA), which represents people in matters involving their utility service.
People can avoid a spike in their bills in the winter by enrolling in their utilities’ budget billing programs that evens out the spikes by spreading billing throughout the year.
Along with receiving financial assistance on water, electric or natural gas bills, food distributions by nonprofit organizations, churches and private individuals are available in the Carrick area.
For the first time, people who are struggling to pay their utilities can receive cash grants to help with water from the new LIHWAP program. Cash grants are available to help pay heating bills. People can also talk to their utility companies or contact the state OCA.