Illinois gives water-bill assistance to low-income families

Local News

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) on Tuesday announced a new program to assist low-income Illinois families experiencing economic hardship.

A new water-billing assistance program, the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), will provide $42 million in shut-off avoidance for residents unable to pay their water and sewer bills, according to a news release.

To apply, visit DCEO’s website here or contact the hotline service providing real-time assistance in more than 30 languages at 1-833-711-0374.

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

The new water-billing assistance program builds on $327 million in emergency assistance launched earlier this year for low-income families facing difficulty with paying their utility bill and other essential household bills. Residents in need of financial support can visit here for more information on how to apply for water and other assistance this season.

Eligibility for LIHWAP, like LIHEAP and 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. To find out if you are eligible, visit here. LIHWAP applications will be accepted now through Aug. 31, 2023 or until funds are exhausted.

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

LIHWAP 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, the release says. For customers of regulated water utilities, nearly 20% of households are paying late fees and 5 percent are shut off or in immediate danger of being shut off, the release says. 

To date – more than $470 million in household assistance has been made available as part of Help Illinois Families – and nearly 112,000 utility disconnections statewide have been avoided, thanks to State of Illinois interventions over the past year and half, the release says.

Eligibility for LIHWAP, like LIHEAP and 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. To find out if you are eligible, visit here. LIHWAP applications will be accepted now through Aug. 31, 2023 or until funds are exhausted.

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