LIHWAP: A Primer for the Community Action Network

The Low-Income Home Water Assistance Program, or LIHWAP, is a new emergency program administered by the Office of Community Services (OCS) that helps low-income households pay water and sewer bills to maintain access to drinking water and wastewater services. Specifically, the funds are used to pay public water utilities to reduce arrearages1 of and rates charged to eligible individuals. The program was created by the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which provided $638 million in initial funding, and Congress later appropriated an additional $500 million for the program under the American Rescue Plan of 2021. LIHWAP has not been permanently authorized by Congress, which means that the program will end once all the funds appropriated to it have been spent.


1 For the purposes of LIHWAP, arrearage refers to an unpaid past due bill for household drinking water and/or wastewater utility services. LIHWAP grant resources can be used to pay for arrearages incurred at any point in time by households that meet LIHWAP eligibility criteria and may include reconnection charges, fees, and penalties.

This resource is part of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Legal Training and Technical Assistance Center. It was created by CAPLAW in the performance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services, Cooperative Agreement Award Number 90ET0482-02. Any opinion, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.