LIHWAP: A Primer for the Community Action Network

OCS awards LIHWAP funding to states, territories, and tribes (Recipients or States). Recipient allocations are based on the percentage of households with income equal to or less than 150% of the federal poverty line (FPL) and those that spend more than 30% of monthly income on housing.

Recipients develop an implementation plan outlining how the program will operate. Most Recipients are leveraging existing provider networks for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to encourage the timely distribution of LIHWAP resources and ensure consistency with existing policies and procedures for utility supports. Recipients may choose to administer LIHWAP directly by entering into vendor agreements with water utilities and making payments on behalf of eligible individuals. Alternatively, they may choose to subgrant some or all program functions to local administering agencies (Subrecipients), including Community Action Agencies (CAAs). The program functions that may be delegated to CAAs include:

  • Conducting intake and determining eligibility for benefits;
  • Coordinating outreach strategies to eligible households;
  • Providing referrals to other utilities assistance programs;
  • Negotiating vendor agreements with local water utilities; and
  • Making and tracking payments to the utilities on behalf of eligible individuals.

As of the date of this writing, all States and territories except for North Dakota have opted to offer LIHWAP and finalized their LIHWAP plan. CAAs should review their State’s LIHWAP plan in conjunction with any informal discussions and subaward agreements to better understand how the program will function in their State.

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.