Oxford Utilities to participate in program assisting low-income households

Published 4:45 pm Thursday, April 7, 2022

Oxford Utilities will assist low-income households in paying their bills and fees through a program with the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen approved the service company’s participation in the program during a regular board meeting on Tuesday.

DHS announced that Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program has received 13 million dollars in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help income-eligible residents maintain access to drinking water and wastewater services through the end of September 2023.

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Oxford Utilities will officially participate in the program which is locally managed by LIFT of Lafayette County.

“The customer would go to LIFT with the information they need to apply for this and then [LIFT] would make the decision [on] if it meets their criteria,” said Rob Neely, general manager of Oxford Utilities. “If it does, they will send us a voucher or a notification saying [the customer’s] bill will be paid and we would operate as if we’d been paid and move on down the road and wait for the payment to hit the account.”

This program provides financial assistance to eligible households in managing costs associated with water bills, wastewater/sewer bills, reconnection fees and late fees.

LIHWAP is available for individuals and families who need assistance paying a current bill, have past-due water bills, had their service terminated, or received a notice indicating that their service will be terminated in the next 60 days. Households can receive the LIHWAP grants for both drinking water and wastewater services. The funding is issued directly to the utility providers to support families who meet income requirements.

A similar program called the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that assists with electric bills is currently running as well. Mississippi residents who qualify for LIHEAP will also be eligible for LIHWAP.

To qualify for these programs, the applicant’s household income must be at or below 60% of the state median income. Mississippi’s state median income in 2020 dollars is $46,511, according to the United States Census Bureau.