CHICAGO, IL (WEHT) – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, also known as 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, also known as LIHWAP, provides $42 million in shut-off avoidance for residents unable to pay their water and sewer bills.
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.
“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.”
LIHWAP recognizes the economic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on Illinois residents. Households are finding it difficult to keep up with their utility bills, including water and sewer bills. For customers of 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. 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 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, please visit helpillinoisfamilies.com. LIHWAP applications will be accepted December 7, 2021 through August 31, 2023, or until funds are exhausted.
To apply for these programs or water assistance, visit DCEO’s website, or contact the hotline service providing real-time assistance in over 30 languages at 1-833-711-0374.