Update as of 9/14/23: The Ohio Department of Development has been approved to proceed with a six-month extension to the LIHWAP program. This will extend the application deadline for LIHWAP through March 31, 2024.
Step Forward is urging Cuyahoga County residents to apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program’s Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program as soon as possible.
The program, which was created as a temporary response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has provided invaluable support to households in paying for their water and wastewater bills. After being extended in 2022, LIHWAP is now scheduled to end September 30, 2023.
Since its inception, Step Forward has distributed nearly $600,000 in LIHWAP funding to those in need. The agency confirms it has more than $400,000 in aid remaining.
“Access to clean water is a basic necessity, but it remains out of reach for many due to financial constraints,” Paul Billups, Step Forward’s Director of HEAP, said. “LIHWAP’s one-time payment has offered a much-needed reprieve alleviating financial burdens and providing peace of mind to those have struggled to keep their water running.”
Applying for LIHWAP is easier than many individuals think. The first step is to check for eligibility. LIHWAP is available for those at or below 175 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, for those who have a disconnection notice, those who have been disconnected, and those who are in the process of establishing a new service or are paying to transfer service. Residents with a current medical certificate on file with their utility are ineligible to receive LIHWAP assistance until the medical certificate protection expires.
Customers will need to secure an appointment through Step Forward’s scheduling system online or via phone. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Customers will need to provide the necessary paperwork to receive assistance at the time of their appointment, including copies of their most recent water/wastewater bills.
LIHWAP has become a beacon of hope for low-income households struggling to pay their water and wastewater bills during challenging times. As we approach September 30, the program’s expiration date, the need for prompt action becomes critical.
“For many low-income households, LIHWAP has been the difference between despair and hope, ensuring they can maintain their dignity and health in challenging times,” Billups stressed. “Even if you personally don’t need LIHWAP, there is a good chance someone in your community does. We ask that everyone help spread the word about this program’s approaching deadline to ensure those who require this lifeline don’t miss out on the opportunity to receive it.”
For more information about LIHWAP and to apply, click here.