LIHWAP DCL 2021-15 Alternative Utilities Funding FY2021

Publication Date: August 24, 2021

Low Income Household Water Assistance Program

Dear Colleague Letter

DCL#:                               LIHWAP-DCL-2021-15

DATE:                               August 24, 2021

TO:                                     Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) Grantees

SUBJECT:                        Additional Federal Resources that Can Be Used for Water and Wastewater Assistance and Household Support

ATTACHMENT(S):        N/A


Dear Colleagues,

The purpose of this message is to provide Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) grantees with information about federal sources of funding for water and wastewater assistance that may be used in addition to your LIHWAP grant. The adverse impacts of not having access to water and wastewater services, particularly during the pandemic, necessitates a comprehensive approach to addressing water needs for vulnerable households. As such, the Office of Community Services (OCS) is sharing information regarding other funding sources that can be used for emergency water assistance.

We encourage LIHWAP grantees to design creative solutions that leverage, when possible, multiple funding sources to fully meet the needs of low-income households. In many cases LIHWAP grantees and subgrantees are likely administering at least two of the programs found on this list. We recommend you take full advantage of the opportunity to blend resources, as there are no LIHWAP polices that preclude households from receiving a LIHWAP benefit if they have received assistance through another program.

For programs that your agency is not administering directly, we encourage you to reach out to the federal, state, or local agency administering the program and identify ways to build partnerships. Leveraging resources, whether coordinating the additional resources directly or making referrals to other programs, can better support low-income households in need of water and wastewater assistance.

In addition to LIHWAP, the following federal resources may be used for water and wastewater utility payment assistance:

Programs Offered by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)

  • Program Purpose: The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) provides support for services and activities that alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty for individuals with low incomes. CSBG is a flexible funding source and its use is driven by a local community needs assessment. If such an assessment shows that water and wastewater utility payment assistance is a priority need, a CSBG eligible entity may decide to use CSBG for such purposes.
  • Eligibility: States (including the District of Columbia), U.S. territories, and federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations serve as CSBG grantees. Grantees then set the income eligibility for individuals and families seeking assistance, which is up to 125% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows grantees to expand income eligibility to 200% FPL for both regularly-appropriated CSBG, and CSBG CARES (see Funding Information section below for more information on CSBG CARES). Grantees may then sub-contract with local eligible entities, commonly referred to as Community Action Agencies (CAAs). CSBG provides financial support for services and activities that help to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty for individuals with low income. Services may include employment, education, income and asset building services, housing, nutrition, emergency services, and/or healthcare. Click here to learn more about CSBG.  Overall, CSBG is a flexible funding source and its use is driven by a local community needs assessment. You can locate your local CAA here Visit disclaimer page .
  • Funding Information: Approximately $715 million in funds are awarded annually (referred to as “regular CSBG appropriations”). The CARES Act made available $1 billion in supplemental funds for CSBG. The supplemental is referred to as CSBG CARES.
  • Website: Office of Community Services' Community Services Block Grant.

The Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund (PEAF)

  • Program Purpose: The Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund, established through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, provides funding for certain non-recurrent, short-term benefits outlined in section 403(c) of the Social Security Act to help families in need deal with a specific crisis or episode of hardship caused by the pandemic. Allowable benefits include one-time cash assistance, emergency housing and short-term homelessness assistance, emergency food aid, short-term utility payments, burial assistance, and back-to-school assistance.
  • Eligibility: States (including the District of Columbia), U.S. territories, and tribes operating a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
  • Funding Information: $1 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. Awards are made based on a statutory formula. All funds from the initial allotment must be expended by September 30, 2022.
  • Website: Office of Family Assistance's Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund.

Programs Offered by the Department of Treasury

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

  • Program Purpose: The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) provides funding to assist households that are unable to pay rent or utilities. Funds must be used to provide direct financial assistance for rent, rental arrears, utilities and home energy costs, utilities and home energy costs arrears, and other expenses related to housing. Up to 10% of funds may be used by grantees for housing stability services, including case management and other services intended to keep households stably housed.
  • Eligibility: States (including the District of Columbia), U.S. territories, local governments with more than 200,000 residents, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and tribes (defined to include Alaska native corporations) or the tribally-designated housing entity of a tribe, as applicable.
  • Funding Information: ERA1 provides up to $25 billion under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021; ERA2 provides up to $21.55 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Funding must be obligated by September 30, 2022.
  • Website: U.S. Department of the Treasury's Emergency Rental Assistance Program Visit disclaimer page .

Programs Offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF)

  • Program Purpose: The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) helps prevent mortgage delinquencies and defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020. Funds from the HAF may be used for assistance with mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, utility payments, and other specified purposes.
  • Eligibility for Funding: States, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, tribes and/or tribal entities, and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
  • Funding Information: The American Rescue Plan Act allocated a minimum of $50 million for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Tribes and tribally-designated housing entities and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands received $498 million. U.S. territories received $30 million.
  • Website: U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Homeowner Assistance Fund.

Programs Offered by the Environmental Protection Agency

Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)

  • Program Purpose: The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program is a federal-state partnership that provides communities low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects. Under section 603(i) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the CWSRF can offer further support by providing additional subsidization in the form of the principal forgiveness, grants, and negative interest loans to assist disadvantaged municipalities that meet the state’s affordability criteria. Section 603(i) of the CWA also allows the CWSRF to provide additional subsidization to a municipality that does not meet the state’s affordability criteria but wants to assist individual ratepayers that are facing significant economic hardship. This authority allows a municipality to target additional subsidization to those most in need of assistance due to potential rate increases resulting from high priority wastewater infrastructure projects.
  • Eligibility: States, U.S. territories, and tribes.
  • Funding Information: Each year, Congress appropriates funds for the CWSRF program. In fiscal year 2020, the CWSRF provided $7.5 billion in revolving loan assistance and other related supports. States may set specific loan terms, including interest rates from 0% to market rate, and repayment periods of up to 30 years. States also have the flexibility to target financial resources to their specific community and environmental needs.
  • Website: Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

Additional Resources

We know that low-income families often have more than one unmet need, so please help us spread the word: assistance is available.

  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) received $4.5 million in supplemental funding to help families and individuals with low incomes afford home heating and cooling costs, including help with paying bills, repairing or replacing heating/cooling equipment, and possibly weatherizing homes to lower bills.  Individuals interested in applying for energy assistance can search for their local LIHEAP intake agency or office using HHS’ map of LIHEAP Local Agency Locations. Alternatively, they may contact the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) hotline at 1-866-674-6327. This hotline provides contact information based on the caller’s zip code. Individuals may also call the Office of Community Services for assistance at (202) 401-9351.

Thank you for your attention to these matters. OCS looks forward to continuing to provide high-quality services to OCS grantees.

/s/
Lauren Christopher
Director, Division of Energy Assistance
Office of Community Services