NJ’s Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) assists low- and medium-income eligible households that have difficulty paying their water and wastewater bills. In NJ, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is responsible for administering this program, which is funded through a federal grant.
Residents and utilities must both act to benefit from the program. Specific information for individual households and for utilities is provided below.
Act now to access LIHWAP funds before they expire! This is a one-time grant and funding is available until, at the latest, Fall of 2023, or until all funds are expended if sooner. Qualified households can receive up to $4,000 towards overdue water bills and $4,000 toward overdue sewer bills. Funds are paid directly to the water or sewer utility when DCA approves a customer’s application. Funds can also be used to pay off related “tax liens”.
For more information (in both English and Spanish), click on the Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) new website: waterassistance.nj.gov.
For Households and Community Organizations
Application instructions, eligibility requirements, a link to the online application portal, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are available at waterassistance.nj.gov.
Please note that only one member of the household is required to be a legal resident to qualify for assistance.
Funds are available to help with water and sewer bills, but can also be used to pay off “tax liens” related to water and sewer debt. (Please see DCA’s FAQ page for more information on what to do if you need help paying off a lien.)
Need help with the application? For LIHWAP application support, contact:
- NJ Utility Assistance Hotline:
- Phone: Dial 211 or 800-510-3102.
- Text: Send your zip code to 898-211.
- Email: email@example.com.
- For your closest local agency that can help with applications, see the list here: https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/docs/LIHEAP/LIHEAP_Agencies.pdf. These agencies can help with LIHWAP, even though the list refers only to energy assistance.
Customers who have been approved by DCA to participate in the LIHWAP program receive disconnection protection, under a new state law enacted on April 5, 2023.
For customers of AQUA New Jersey, Veolia Water, and New Jersey American Water, other water assistance programs are also available via NJ SHARES. For more information, visit the NJ SHARES website or call their toll free number at 1-866-657-4273.
For Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities
All water and wastewater utilities must enter into a vendor agreement with the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which describes utilities’ and DCA’s obligations to each other under the program. Under a new state law enacted on April 5, 2023, ALL water and wastewater utilities must sign the vendor agreement. As described by the Governor’s Office, under the law, any utility that does not sign the vendor agreement is prohibited from assessing interest on arrearages, discontinuing services, or placing, selling, or enforcing a lien for unpaid balances. Contact Fidel Ekhelar at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the vendor agreement to sign and return to DCA.
Water and wastewater utilities are also required under the new law to advertise the program to customers, including on every bill, in every written communication to a residential customer in connection with an overdue bill, and on the utility’s website. Access the required language for LIHWAP communications here. Read more about vendor requirements under the law here.
Under the law, utilities must also provide customer arrearage data to DCA (including names, addresses, and dollar amounts owed). This will help DCA to do targeted outreach to customers who are likely to qualify for assistance. DCA, in turn, will provide utilities with regular status updates on their customers’ pending applications. Contact Fidel Ekhelar at email@example.com for more information on how to submit information on customer arrears and receive updates on customer applications.
Additional information specifically for utilities, including a FAQ and webinar video, are now available at waterassistance.nj.gov.
Webinars for Utilities, Advocates, and Community Organizations to Learn More
Watch the recording (March 2023) of a meeting covering New Jersey’s Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) for vendors, presented by NJ Department of Community Affairs.
Watch the recording (October, 2022) of a webinar covering New Jersey’s Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) presented by Jersey Water Works, Natural Resources Defense Council, NJ Board of Public Utilities (NJ BPU) and the NJ Department of Community Affairs. This recording includes an overview of LIHWAP, details for consumers on how to access the LIHWAP program, and details for Water and Sewer utilities on how to participate in LIHWAP. Please note that program eligibility and benefit levels have been expanded since this webinar was recorded. LIHWAP will provide up to a maximum benefit of $4,000 per service (water and sewer). The amount of benefit that you will receive will depend on the current balance owed on your water and sewer bill. To be eligible, the monthly household income must be at or below 60% of the NJ state median income.
Watch the recording (December 2022) of the virtual session from the 2022 Jersey Water Works Conference focused on expanding awareness of New Jersey’s LIHWAP for communities and residents. Please note that program eligibility and benefit levels have been expanded since this webinar was recorded. Please see the information above for the most current details.