Having running water in your home is a necessity, yet paying the monthly water and wastewater bills creates a financial strain for many low-income families. If you're an Arkansas resident struggling to afford your water/wastewater service, the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) may be able to help.
The LIHWAP program assists eligible households to manage their drinking water and sewer bills. Keep reading to learn about the assistance available and how to apply.
LIHWAP Eligibility in Arkansas
The LIHWAP program assists Arkansas households that meet the following criteria:
- Have income below 150% of the federal poverty level based on household size
- Responsible for water/sewer bills in their name
- Facing disconnection of water service
- Have outstanding balances or overdue bills
Your household size and income determine if you qualify.
Households currently receiving SNAP, SSI, TANF, or LIHEAP are automatically eligible, but still need to submit an application.
Types of LIHWAP Assistance Available for Eligible Households
LIHWAP in Arkansas offers assistance with both one-time crisis assistance and ongoing bill help:
Crisis Benefit - A maximum one-time benefit payment of $2,000 is sent to your water provider to address an outstanding balance or past due water bill that threatens the disconnection of water services.
Regular Assistance - Ongoing bill credits are provided for 12 months to help manage current charges. The benefit amount depends on your income, household size, and water costs. It ranges from $50 - $1,200 total over the year.
Eligible low income households can receive both crisis and regular aid. LIHWAP payments go directly to your utility company and are applied as credits to water/sewer charges only.
How to Apply for LIHWAP in Arkansas
You can apply for LIHWAP assistance online or by phone:
- Online Application Portal - Complete the LIHWAP application through the online portal. Be ready to provide details on your household size, income, and water account.
- Phone - Call 888-985-6441 to apply over the phone.
When submitting an application, have the following documents ready:
- Identification like a driver's license or ID card
- Proof of income such as pay stubs or benefit letters
- Current water/sewer bill showing your account number
- Disconnection notice if you have one
Unfortunately, Arkansas is no longer accepting new LIHWAP applications for the current program year. But check back in fall 2023 when the next LIHWAP season starts.
Status of Your LIHWAP Application
You can check the status of your application anytime by logging into the LIHWAP portal. Be sure to respond promptly to any requests for additional documentation. Failure to provide requested information could delay decisions on your application.
Once approved, the LIHWAP program will send payments directly to your water provider. You'll see credits applied to past due bills go to your account. Any unused credit will be reimbursed back to the program after 12 months.
Additional Ways to Get Help with Water Bills
If you still need assistance after LIHWAP, here are some other resources:
- Contact your utility company - Ask about available payment plans, discounted rates, or hardship programs.
- 211 helpline - Call 211 to learn about local social services, including utility assistance funds.
- Churches and charities - Many offer limited emergency financial aid for bills.
- Payment plans - Set up installment plans to spread out your balance over time.
- Budget billing - Request levelized monthly payments based on average usage.
- Customer assistance funds - Some providers maintain hardship funds or assistance programs.
- Conserve water - Take steps to reduce usage and lower your monthly charges.
Having access to safe drinking water and wastewater services is vital for any household. Yet staying on top of expenses isn't always easy for needy families with a limited income. Hopefully, programs like LIHWAP can provide much-needed relief for eligible families struggling to pay their utility bills in Arkansas.
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