Are you or someone you know having difficulty paying their past-due water bills? Don’t wait to reach out for help! The new Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) may be able to erase your debt.

LIHWAP is a short-term water bill relief program helping low-income families pay off their overdue water and sewer bills. Qualifying Philadelphians must apply now to receive a lumpsum payment of up to $5,000 towards their bills.

Deputy Revenue Commissioner for Water, Susan Crosby, tells us more about what LIHWAP is and how the new program works:

What’s LIHWAP?

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program is a statewide emergency program helping families settle their outstanding water bills. It is part of the federal government’s continued efforts to help households experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.

LIHWAP seeks to ensure that families, who need help paying their water bills, maintain access to drinking and waste water services. It provides financial relief to eligible households.

The program is available in every state. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Human Services (DHS) administers LIHWAP. The City of Philadelphia doesn’t take applications for this program. Eligible Philadelphia households can apply for help through the DHS website.

I understand LIHWAP is a temporary program. But when does it begin and end?

LIHWAP is a limited, one-time water assistance program. It began accepting applications on January 3, 2022. It will continue until the $43 million Pennsylvania received in federal funding for this program runs out.

Philadelphians who find it difficult to keep up with their water bills should apply as quickly as possible to get up to $5,000 to wipe out their debts.

What do I need to apply, and how is my LIHWAP benefit determined?

Applying for LIHWAP is very easy. You will need:

  • The names of everyone living in your home,
  • Their dates of birth, and
  • Social Security numbers

Since the program is income-based, you must also submit proof of income along with your application. Don’t forget to include a recent water bill and a copy of your photo ID.

LIHWAP benefits are determined based on your household size and income. To be sure, visit LIHWAP (pa.gov) for a full list of income requirements.

Where do I get started or find more information?

Once you’ve gathered everything you need, please go to COMPASS HHS Home (state.pa.us) to start your online application. You can also apply for LIHWAP by phone, by calling (877) 395-8930.

 If you would rather submit a paper application, please download and complete this form. The paper application is also available in Spanish. When your application is ready, please mail it to:

Philadelphia County Assistance Office Headquarters
801 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

In-person applications are also available at your local county assistance office. Call (215) 560-7226 for more information or help with your application.

You can also visit https://www.dhs.pa.gov/waterhelp to learn more about LIHWAP and how to apply.

How will I receive the LIHWAP payment, and what would be the frequency?

If your application is approved, you will receive a notification from DHS telling you the amount LIHWAP will pay towards your water bill debt. The State will then send your one-time payment to Philadelphia’s Water Revenue Bureau to be applied to your account. Once this is all done, your next water bill will show the payment and a notice about your LIHWAP benefit.

Will I need to pay back?

No, the money you receive through LIHWAP is a grant. You don’t have to pay it back.

Photo credit: Joseph Bamat