Governor, DPHHS Launch New Program To Help Montanans With Water Expenses
HELENA, Mont. – Together with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), Governor Greg Gianforte today announced a new, statewide $3.8 million program to help eligible Montanans pay for water and wastewater expenses.
“This program will go a long way to help ensure Montanans maintain access to water at their home, without worrying about disruptions to service,” Gov. Gianforte said.
Data gathered from the larger cities across the state indicate that many households are 60 or more days past due with amounts ranging anywhere from $50 to $1,000.
Gianforte said the funds will allow the state to provide some relief in the monthly costs related to home drinking water and wastewater costs for eligible households.
DPHHS Director Adam Meier added, “The program addresses an important need in our state. We believe it’s going to make a big difference, and we’re excited to offer this opportunity.”
The funding is available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Based on the recommendations from Montana’s ARPA Health Advisory Commission, Gov. Gianforte devoted $1.68 million for the new program on June 28, 2021. An additional $2.1 million dollars is allocated to the program through the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
To prepare for the new program rollout, DPHHS changed its eligibility system and only recently received federal guidance regarding program eligibility. Now that those pieces are in place, the agency is coordinating the rollout of this program with the existing Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Meier said DPHHS has made it easy for Montanans to apply by creating one application for both LIHWAP, and LIHEAP and Weatherization programs.
The statewide network of Human Resource Development Councils will receive and approve applications for LIHWAP. DPHHS has entered into vendor agreements with nearly 100 public water system operators across the state to initiate payments. DPHHS continues outreach to encourage other public water system providers to participate in the program. Water system providers may elect to participate in the program at any time.
To qualify for LIHWAP assistance, Montanans must meet these requirements:
- Be responsible for paying water and/or wastewater (sewer) bill.
- Have an active water and/or wastewater (sewer) account or have an obligation to pay through a rental agreement.
- Be a United States citizen or legally admitted for permanent residency.
Households must also be connected to a public water system.
Applicants are required to meet income and resource guidelines. For example, a family of four with an income of less than $52,465 is eligible.
To apply for assistance, Montanans can submit a combined LIHWAP and LIHEAP application. An application can be found at liheap.mt.gov or by contacting the local LIHEAP eligibility office. A list of LIHEAP offices is here Energy Assistance (mt.gov).
Applicants needing assistance to complete an application may call 1-833-317-1080.