Everyone knows that the Guilford County Division of Social Services helps county residents get food and electricity when they can’t afford it, but another less well-known program helps those who can’t pay their water bills.

On Thursday, Aug. 18, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote to accept $831,312 in new funds for county social services workers to use as part of the county’s Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program.

The money is provided by the NC Department of Health and Human Services and will be used to continue the program in Guilford County through the end of June of 2023.

According to information provided to the Board of Commissioners for the August 18 meeting regarding the water-bill relief program, it “provides emergency assistance to low-income households, particularly those with the lowest of incomes that pay a high proportion of their household income for drinking and wastewater services.”

Eligibility for the help is income-based – and households currently receiving benefits through Low-Income Energy Assistance Programs, Food and Nutrition Services, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, are automatically eligible.

Funds from the program have to be paid to operators of public water systems or water treatment services to reduce the bills of eligible households.

After the first allocation of money was received by Guilford County last fall, state officials implemented a way to cut back on paperwork for the individual counties participating in the program.  They put in place a statewide web portal that let water providers to complete vendor agreements.  Therefore, individual county-level agreements don’t need to be completed or updated for this new allocation period.