The Federal Government extended a pat on the back to all economic services staff in North Carolina for both standing up and executing the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). The LIHWAP serves eligible, low-income families by helping them pay a high proportion of their household drinking and wastewater costs. At the urging of the Federal government, the state of North Carolina began taking applications for this program in December 2021. Services were in such high demand that by early January 2022, services were expanded to support a larger number of North Carolina residents.
In an email to local health departments, Carla West, Senior Director for Economic Security for North Carolina, relays the following accolade from Federal partner, Mitch Navetto, to the staff who supported the construction and execution of this program, "Yours [North Carolina’s LIHWAP] is one of the most successful programs we have seen so far, and that is definitely something to celebrate!"
A special thanks to North Carolinian economic services staff was not enough, however. In addition, The state’s work was highlighted in a video that was shown at the White House to celebrate the anniversary of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). They also requested that North Carolina officials participate in a listening session with the White House administration about the challenges and successes that were experienced in the LIHWAP roll out.
West closed her congratulatory email by reminding staff of the real life impact of their work. "As of yesterday we have assisted over 20,000 households with almost $7 million dollars in LIHWAP assistance!" Carla continues, "I cannot tell you anything that you do not already know about the importance of this program. I have received numerous calls from citizens telling me how their water was cut off and they were trying to figure out how to take care of their one year old child, or how they had an undiscovered leak in their water that lead to a bill over a thousand dollars and they had no way to pay it. What you do matters."
Note From Stoney
Director for Buncombe County Health and Human Services
"COVID-19 created financial hardship for many citizens in a variety of areas of daily life. I applaud the state of North Carolina for using COVID relief funds to expand assistance to an area that has historically been unattended. When this time-sensitive opportunity presented itself to Buncombe County HHS, we turned to our trusted partner Eblen Charities, who has successfully worked alongside us for many years to deliver other types of utility assistance to residents in need. Once again they have risen to the opportunity to serve our community. Finally, I want to thank our local water providers in the county for being a key partner as well in this successful endeavor."
So far in Buncombe County, our Economic Services staff have already approved 174 applicants for the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program totaling $108,000 in benefits distributed to Buncombe residents. There is still funding available so if you would like to apply to be a recipient for this program, you may do so at Eblen Charities located in the Westgate Shopping Center at 50 Westgate Parkway in Asheville. If you are already a recipient of public support services and would like to participate in this program as well, apply using your epass account.