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Regulators ask for permanent federal low-income water grants

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(The Center Square) — A pandemic-era aid program to cover water bills for low-income families is set to end, and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission wants federal legislators to save it.

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program was established in 2022 as a temporary federal program to send “crisis grants” to families behind on their water bills. The maximum annual income for a family of four is $42,000 and almost 45,000 households in Pennsylvania got help through the problem in 2022.

But the program is set to end in fiscal year 2024. In a December letter, the PUC exhorted the commonwealth’s federal legislators “to create a mechanism to permanently fund a low-income program like LIHWAP for water customers.”

The PUC wants a permanent fund for the program to help vulnerable citizens, the letter said.

Since the program began in Pennsylvania, almost $44 million in grants have been provided with an average amount of $552, the PUC said.

“If the LIHWAP program lapses, there is no question that many will suffer,” the PUC said. “LIHWAP has proven to be a successful program in getting assistance to those who need it the most.

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