Iowa has been awarded just over $10,000,000 to administer LIHWAP, and the vast majority of that money is targeted toward household benefit payments. However, per federal regulations, households cannot receive these payments directly. Rather, the payments have to be made directly to Vendors on behalf of the households. To receive these payments, Vendors must agree to the Terms & Conditions set by both state and federal regulations. Primarily, this will require Vendors to share information on rates/amounts owed (when necessary) and to provide confirmation that payments issued are received and appropriate action is taken on the household’s account. By agreeing to these terms, Vendors can ensure that payment will be received for any household approved for LIHWAP benefits, thereby reducing the overall number of accounts with outstanding balances and resulting in fewer disconnections. This makes it a win-win for households and Vendors!
To be eligible for LIHWAP benefits, a household’s countable income must be at or below 200% of the current Federal Poverty Guidelines, a water burden must exist (past-due balance, disconnect notice), and the household must demonstrate a legal status that allows for receipt of federal benefits (social security number or I-94 number). Applications will be made through local Community Action Agencies and, once approved, Vendors will be notified of the approval and the amount to be paid on behalf of the household. DHR anticipates a high level of interest for LIHWAP assistance throughout Iowa as both homeowners and renters will be eligible for benefits. But, without the cooperation and support of Vendors, agencies will be unable to adequately meet the needs of the communities they serve due to the inability to issue payments to the households themselves. This illustrates how crucial the relationship between local agencies and Vendors will be to the success of this program, and we are asking for help in making sure LIHWAP impacts as many Iowans as possible. In the coming weeks, Vendors will likely be contacted by program staff at local agencies to discuss LIHWAP and the Vendor Agreement. We greatly appreciate Vendors being receptive to this outreach and open to working with agencies to resolve accounts for LIHWAP-approved households. Together, we can truly make a difference for low-income households in Iowa experiencing severe financial distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information on the LIHWAP program, or to request a copy of the Vendor Agreement to initiate participation in the program, please contact your local Community Action Agency or the Division of Community Action Agencies at Iowa DHR.