Updated: October 12, 2023
BCWSA helped low-income, aging residents who were facing financial emergencies
WARRINGTON, PA – As a result of Bucks County Water & Sewer Authority’s (BCWSA) efforts to help residents apply for Pennsylvania’s Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), more than 130 customers were able to pay $95,480 in overdue water and wastewater bills.
BCWSA worked with residents facing financial hardships to help them apply for the grants during the recent enrollment period (July 10 – Aug. 11) through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. The program primarily supports low-income customers and the aging population.
“We recognize customers can face a crisis at any time,” said Benjamin Jones, CEO and Executive Director of BCWSA. “We assist our customers with supportive resources that are available through our state and federal partners.”
LIHWAP crisis grants were available to customers who are in an emergency and in jeopardy of losing their service. Crisis situations include past-due water bills and at risk of having utility service terminated.
Eligible customers were able to receive two grants, one for drinking water service and one for wastewater service, up to $2,500 each. Applicants had to meet the household income guidelines. For a household of four, the maximum annual income limit is $41,625.
“Our dedicated staff worked with our customers to understand the qualification guidelines and helped them through the application process,” said Jones.
After a successful program in 2022, the state received additional funding to re-open LIHWAP for 2023. BCWSA assisted more than 100 customers pay approximately $70,000 in overdue bills from the initial program. Grant recipients do not have to repay the money they receive.
Similar in scope and origin to the long-standing LIHEAP (Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program), LIHWAP was established by an emergency supplemental appropriation in 2021 in response to financial challenges stemming from the pandemic. Although LIHWAP began in January 2022, the $43.2 million appropriation was expended by October 2022 with over 40,000 Pennsylvanians receiving much-needed relief.
“It’s important that those who struggle to pay for heating and cooling bills also have supportive services to pay for water and wastewater bills,” said Jones. “Receiving assistance for one utility and not the other can undermine the overall effectiveness of customer assistance programs, leaving low-income customers in the same predicament.”