IL announces $42 million water program for low income residents

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Information provided by the Governor’s Office

CHICAGO, Ill. (December 7, 2021) – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced a new program available to assist low-income Illinois families experiencing economic hardship. A new water billing assistance program, the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), provides $42 million in shut-off avoidance for residents unable to pay their water and sewer bills.

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program recognizes the immense economic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on residents statewide. Households are finding it difficult to keep up with their utility bills, including water and sewer bills. For customers of the regulated water utilities, nearly 20% of households are paying late fees and five percent are shut off or in immediate danger of being shut off.

“Illinois is launching the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program – $42 million to help residents keep up with their water and sewage bills, avoiding utility shut offs and ensuring the roof over their head is also a home,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Together with the $327 million I announced in September for energy bill assistance and the Community Services Block Grant Program, our total available funds for utility bills and other household expenses are at a record level. We’ve been able to help Illinoisans avoid 112,000 utility disconnections across the state and will be providing hundreds of millions of additional dollars in the months ahead.”

New LIHWAP funds are being made available to low-income families who are facing disconnection, those who have already been shut off, or those currently facing arrearages of $250 or more.

Eligibility for LIHWAP, like other household assistance programs offered by the state, is income dependent. To be eligible, Illinois families must demonstrate that they are within 200 percent of the federal poverty line. For a family of four, this means combined income of $54,000 or less.

“Our administration knows that financial stress can come from many sides, and that’s why we have allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to not only rental and mortgage aid, like the $505 million distributed to 57,000 households through the Illinois Rental Payment Program, but also utility assistance,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program builds on these support systems and will bring relief to thousands more families. It is another lifeline for our most vulnerable residents.”

LIHWAP was authorized in this year’s State budget, supported with funds via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Additionally, the Governor signed and state lawmakers passed two pieces of legislation, P.A. 102-0262 and P.A. 102-0613, authorizing two future permanent state-funded water assistance programs that will grant families relief on arrearages and to help prevent more families from facing shutoffs.

Families have several options when seeking water and utility assistance funds. Eligible applicants can visit DCEO’s website helpillinoisfamilies.com to fill out a request for service form, can contact the hotline at 1-833-711-0374, or may visit any one of 34 Community Action Agencies located statewide.

To determine eligibility, please visit helpillinoisfamilies.com. LIHWAP applications will be accepted now through August 31, 2023 or until funds are exhausted. Interested applicants can also contact a hotline service providing real-time assistance in over 30 languages at 1-833-711-0374.

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