LIHWAP: A Primer for the Community Action Network

Recipients must establish procedures to treat owners and renters equitably under LIHWAP. As part of the intake process, a CAA should ask renters if their water bill is included in their monthly rent. If it is and the applicant is otherwise eligible, the CAA or the applicant should contact the applicant’s landlord to gather or confirm information about their rental unit’s water meter and utility account. For renters served by a shared water meter, CAAs may need to work with the landlord to establish an average monthly water usage amount, which can be based on either the current bill of the shared water meter divided by the number of household members, or the average monthly cost per person in the service area as determined by the water vendor. After making payments to a public utility, the CAA must confirm that the landlord is passing the benefits on to the household in the form of a rent reduction. For more information about administering LIHWAP to renter households, see LIHWAP IM-2021-05.

One strategy CAAs can use to promote renter household access to LIHWAP benefits is to integrate the program with the Emergency Rental Assistance program (ERA). Braiding ERA resources with LIHEAP and LIHWAP can help keep a family in their home for longer and ensure that it is safe and affordable. CAAs that adopt this approach should note that while a household may receive ERA, LIHEAP, and LIHWAP simultaneously, the programs’ eligibility requirements are not the same. To be eligible for ERA, one or more individuals within the household must qualify for unemployment benefits, experience a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. ERA also uses a different eligibility threshold: 80% of area median income, as compared to 150% of FPL or 60% of State median income, as applicable, for LIHEAP and LIHWAP.

This resource is part of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Legal Training and Technical Assistance Center. It was created by CAPLAW in the performance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services, Cooperative Agreement Award Number 90ET0482-02. Any opinion, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.