Guilford County government is receiving a new funding allocation in the amount of $578,805 that will be used to help low-income households in Guilford County pay their water bills.

The funding, from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), is part of the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program.

The funds are to be used to continue the program in fiscal year 2022-23. The program 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.”

The Guilford County Division of Social Services constantly administers a very wide variety of safety net programs for struggling families in the county – doing everything from providing free electric fans to homes, paying power bills, covering child care costs and transportation costs, and providing many other services that help the needy.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, those services were ramped up in a major way; however, now that the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror, some of those services are returning to pre-pandemic support levels.

In the case of this new money helping the financially challenged pay for water services, eligibility for the program will be income-based for households at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty level.

Households that are already receiving benefits through Low-Income Energy Assistance Programs, Food and Nutrition Services (in the past known as food stamps), or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (better known as SNAP), will automatically be eligible for the water bill and water service funds.

According to the rules attached to the distribution of the funds, the money must be paid to owners or operators of public water systems or treatment works and be used to reduce the rates charged eligible households.

North Carolina has now created a statewide portal for water providers to complete their vendor agreements, so agreements at the county level are no longer needed.