LIHWAP DCL-2021-16 Second Funding Release FY2021

Publication Date: September 8, 2021

Office of Community Services

Dear Colleague Letter

DCL#:                               LIHWAP-DCL-2021-16

DATE:                               September 8, 2021

TO:                                     Native American Tribes and Tribal Organizations

SUBJECT:                        Second LIHWAP Funding Release During FY 2021

ATTACHMENT(S):        Second FY 2021 Funding Release of LIHWAP Block Grant Funds to Native American Tribes and Tribal Organization (PDF)


Dear Colleagues,

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS), Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF), Office of Community Services’ (OCS), Division of Energy Assistance (DEA), is releasing a second round of emergency funding for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2021. Funding is being awarded to eligible tribes and tribal organizations that completed their LIHWAP paperwork after the initial May 2021 due date, but by July 30, 2021.

ACF continues to make $166.6 million, or 15 percent of allocated LIHWAP funding, immediately available to LIHWAP grantees to support the establishment of the program. In total, $1.1 billion is available through LIHWAP grants, including $500 million in American Rescue Plan funding. LIHWAP grantees can access their full award after their grantee plan (i.e., the plan that outlines how the grantee will implement LIHWAP) has been submitted to and accepted by OCS.

On December 27, 2020, Congress appropriated $638 million in funding for LIHWAP under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (Public Law 116-260) to assist low-income households with water and wastewater bills. Additionally, on March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2) appropriated an additional $500 million in emergency funds to LIHWAP.

To date, forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, five U.S territories, and 103 Native American tribes and tribal organizations are eligible to receive a LIHWAP grant. (Please see the LIHWAP Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) #5 entitled LIHWAP Funding Release for an overview of the states, tribes, and territories that were funded initially. This DCL will provide an overview of the grants awarded to the tribes who submitted a LIHWAP application between May 5, 2021 and July 30, 2021.

Grantees may use LIHWAP funds to assist low-income households, particularly those with the lowest incomes, that pay a high proportion of household income for drinking water and wastewater services, by providing funds to owners or operators of public water systems or treatment works to reduce arrearages of and rates charged to such households for such services.

Obligation Period and Expenditure Deadline for LIHWAP Funding

LIHWAP grantees are free to obligate any portion of these funds in FFY 2021, FFY 2022, or FFY 2023.

Therefore, LIHWAP grantees may carryover up to 100 percent of the funding for obligation in FFY 2022 and FFY 2023. All funds must be obligated by September 30, 2023 and expended (liquidated) by December 31, 2023.

LIHWAP Earmarking Cap

LIHWAP grantees must not obligate more than 15% of the grant(s) towards administrative costs, including those incurred by sub-recipient organizations if they are being used to help administer this program.

Accounting and Reporting on LIHWAP Funding

LIHWAP grantees must track, account for, and report on their funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and their funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 separately.

Drawing Down LIHWAP Funding

ACF has assigned two unique CANs (Common Accounting Numbers) in the federal Payment Management System (PMS) for LIHWAP grantees to draw down (access) their Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 funding separate from their American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funding. ACF has also established two separate grant identification numbers on the separate LIHWAP Notice of Award (NOA) grant letters for the two funding sources.

Additional LIHWAP Terms and Conditions

ACF has noted additional, special Terms and Conditions that are specific to the LIHWAP funding. The special Terms and Conditions are explained on the NOA letter for this particular award. These special Terms and Conditions are in addition to the normal sets of general Terms and Conditions for mandatory/formula ACF programs can be found here (PDF).

The special LIHWAP Terms and Conditions are available online here (PDF).

LIHWAP Income Eligibility

LIHWAP grantees must not consider the economic impact payments from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as income for eligibility. These payments count as a rebate or advance payment of a credit that are exempted as income. Section 103(d) of the American Taxpayer Relief Act amended the relevant statutory provision, 26 U.S.C. § 6409, and specifies that, "… any refund (or advance payment with respect to a refundable credit) made to any individual under this title shall not be taken into account as income, and shall not be taken into account as resources for a period of 12 months from receipt, for purposes of determining the eligibility of such individual (or any other individual) for benefits or assistance (or the amount or extent of benefits or assistance) under any Federal program or under any State or local program financed in whole or in part with Federal funds."

Each LIHWAP grantee has the authority to define “income” for the purpose of determining income eligibility for the program, in accordance with how each grantee treats income for state funded assistance programs. Therefore, each LIHWAP grantee must decide whether to include or exclude other payments from the LIHWAP income eligibility calculation.

COVID-19 Guidance and Information Resources

We want to highlight some resources that may be helpful to you and your LIHWAP partners, including community-based information from the CDC Visit disclaimer page and the toll-free Disaster Distress Hotline that anyone can reach at 1-800-985-5990 and or by texting TalkWithUs to 66746 in order to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Summary

For further details on the award amounts, by LIHWAP grantee, see the attached table that highlights the amounts available for Native American tribes and tribal organizations (PDF) receiving a LIHWAP grant during the second round of grant disbursements.

Please contact our division if you have any questions about the second round of LIHWAP grants:

Tribes: LIHWAPtribes@acf.hhs.gov

We know that many of you continue to work tirelessly to support low-income households during the pandemic, while also dealing with the impact of the pandemic in your personal lives. We thank you for your service and we also hope that you and your families remain healthy, physically and emotionally, during these challenging times. We applaud the extraordinary efforts you, your teams, and program partners are undertaking to ensure individuals and families in need have access to water and wastewater services.

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

/s/
Dr. Lanikque Howard
Director
Office of Community Services