California expands eligibility for low-income water bill assistance to include relief for current bills

The California Department of Community Services and Development today announced the expansion of eligibility for the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program to include all eligible low-income households, regardless of whether they are current on their bill or have a past due balance. LIHWAP is a limited term, federally-funded program that provides financial assistance to help low-income Californians struggling to pay residential water and wastewater bills.

Participating providers in Lassen County include: the Clear Creek Community Services District; the Lake Forest Mutual Water Company; the city of Susanville; the Leavitt Lake CSD; the Susanville Sanitary District; and the Westwood Community Services Disrict.

“California recognizes that water and wastewater services are essential for public health and well-being, and the department is committed to assisting low-income Californians in need of financial support to keep their water flowing,” said CSD Director David Scribner. “This expansion of eligibility to include households with current bills will provide much-needed assistance to Californians impacted by higher costs of living and struggling to pay their water bills.”

“California households struggling to make ends meet are often disproportionately impacted by the cost of basic necessities like power and water,” said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “This program can act as a safety net and help relieve the financial pressure some low-income households face by providing critical assistance to help pay their water bills.”

Why this is important
Previously, eligibility for one-time water bill assistance under LIHWAP was limited to low-income households with a past due balance on their water or wastewater bill and at risk of disconnection or disconnected from their services due to nonpayment. With this expansion in eligibility, qualified low-income households will be able to receive a LIHWAP benefit even if they are current on their water bill. This expansion in eligibility will help ensure more low-income households have access to this important source of financial assistance for their water bill.

Background
LIHWAP was established by Congress in December 2020. California was allocated $116 million in one-time funding for LIHWAP to help reduce the burden of water and wastewater costs for low-income households.

CSD administers LIHWAP in partnership with a network of community-based local service providers. To find the local service provider in your area, view income eligibility levels, and learn more about how to apply for assistance, visit https://csd.ca.gov/waterbill.

Eligibility for water and wastewater bill assistance through LIHWAP depends on a variety of factors, including household income, availability of funding, place of residence, and water or wastewater utility provider. Income eligibility for the program is 60 percent of the State Median Income and varies depending on household size.

A water utility must be enrolled in LIHWAP to receive direct payment of LIHWAP assistance and in order for a customer to participate in the program. Not all water systems can accept LIHWAP payments for current bills. A list of water systems enrolled in the program, and those capable of accepting payments on current bills, can be found here. Customers can contact their local LIHWAP service provider for questions about eligibility and how to apply.