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Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program

Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWA)

Congress appropriated $638M in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021 and an additional $500M in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 for a new emergency water and wastewater assistance program. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Community Services (OCS) is moving to establish LIHWA and distribute the appropriated funds.

The legislation provides emergency assistance to low-income households, particularly those with the lowest incomes, that pay a high proportion of household income for drinking water and wastewater services. The legislation further states that grantees must provide funds to owners and operators of public water systems or treatment works to reduce arrearages of and rates charged to such households for such services.

OCS has selected Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) to serve as Oregon's grantee for LIHWA. Working diligently through a values-based planning process, OHCS has coordinated efforts with water and wastewater utilities, utility associations, and community service organizations to construct LIHWA for the state.

Oregon's State Plan, which informs OCS of our intentions for using the funding, is due to OCS by August 9th. Once OCS approves our plan, OHCS may begin administering the program statewide. The Community Action Agency network, which currently operates the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), will also serve to operate LIHWA.

For general information and updates from OCS, click here

OHCS has recorded our LIHWA engagement efforts with a series of stakeholder conversations. Those meeting recordings are included below:

Initial Stakeholder Meeting (May 17)

Initial Stakeholder Meeting (May 19)

Joint Focus Group (June 28) 

Joint Focus Group (June 29)

Utilities' Focus Group (July 15)

Community Action Agencies' Focus Group (July 26)

Community Action Agencies' Focus Group (July 29)

Community Stakeholder & Utility Introduction (August 24)

Community Stakeholder & Utility Introduction (August 26)

Sign up to receive email updates and be sure to check the box for “Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program" to follow this program's implementation.

​The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWA) is designed to provide low-income households with assistance for drinking water and wastewater services. Households who are at or below 60% State Median Income (SMI) are income eligible for the program. Income documentation required is similar to that of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Priorities of service include households:

  1. Who have had water/wastewater services disconnected
  2. Who are at risk of pending disconnection
  3. Who have arrearages (past due bills)
  4. Who have currently due bills

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