Roanoke, Virginia – The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened many people’s financial situations. The pandemic has caused widespread job losses and economic uncertainty, leading to financial insecurity for many individuals and families. Although the federal government has helped millions of people since the pandemic began, the pandemic has disrupted supply chains and led to shortages of certain goods, causing prices to rise and causing additional struggles for millions of Americans.
When prices rise, people’s purchasing power decreases, meaning that they can buy fewer goods and services with the same amount of money. This year, Americans are seeing record-high inflation in decades, and everything has become much more expensive, slowing down the recovery from the pandemic after the country reopened. The fact that people’s income didn’t increase at the same rate as prices did in recent months caused difficulties for people to pay their monthly bills.
Federal and state governments are aware of this, and they work together to help residents in need of financial help through different programs, while the FED is increasing rates to combat inflation. Earlier this month, Virginia state leaders confirmed that SNAP benefits had been extended through December, but another program is now going to help those who are behind on their utility bills.
The federal government decided to use more than $1.1 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program and help millions of people across the nation to pay their utility bills, and the program is also available to eligible Virginia residents. The program, which is run by the Virginia Department of Social Services in collaboration with Promise, a technology company that works with utilities, is intended to help low-income families pay their water and wastewater bills.
Eligible homes must have an outstanding water or wastewater bill and a gross household income of less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level based on household size. According to the federal poverty threshold for a family of four in 2022, this amount would be $41,625.
Initial data shows that more than 150,000 households were assisted through this program from October last year to March 2022. More than 90,000 households avoided system disconnection and had their service restored.
The program will be running until funds are depleted, but it’s worth noting that households whose water or wastewater has been disconnected or is at risk of being disconnected will be prioritized. Virginia residents who want to apply for this program can do so at www.virginialihwap.com. Application assistance is also available Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. by contacting Promise at 1-888-373-9908.