Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Department of Social Services Commissioner Leonard G. Townes joined Rockland County Executive Ed Day and social services and nonprofit leaders in Nyack on Thursday for a press conference in recognition of “LIHWAP Awareness Day.”

The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is a federally funded program administered by New York State that helps low-income households reduce the balances on their private provider residential water and sewer bills. Since the program began, Rockland and Westchester residents have received over $2.5 million in LIHWAP funding. LIHWAP Awareness Day is designed to bring greater awareness of this program to families in Rockland and Westchester Counties who may be eligible for relief.

County Executives Day and Latimer each made remarks and presented proclamations recognizing LIHWAP Awareness Day. They were joined by Rockland County Social Services Commissioner Joan Silvestri, United Way of Westchester and Putnam President and CEO Tom Gabriel, United Way of Rockland President and CEO Steve Papas, and Yudelca Fondeur, a direct recipient of LIHWAP funding who spoke about how this program has helped her and her family. Representatives from Veolia, which provides water services to nearly 500,000 residents in Rockland and Westchester counties, were also in attendance.

In recognition of LIHWAP awareness day, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge was lit yellow – the color of hope – on the evening on Jan. 12, 2023.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “Access to running water is essential to daily life - and with rising costs nationwide, securing access to this essential piece of daily life is growing more difficult for families already facing economic challenges. Bringing awareness to this program, through events like this, can help to alleviate some of the pressures facing Westchester and Rockland residents to make ends meet.”

Westchester DSS Commissioner Leonard Townes said: "There are few things as critical to the life and well-being of residents as access to water, and if families are struggling to pay their water bills, not only does this create tremendous emotional and financial stress, but it's literally life-threatening. We want to make sure that everyone who is past due on their bills knows about this program and reaches out to the Department of Social Services, or to the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, so we can get them the help they need."

200,000 customers in Westchester get their water from Veolia, in the municipalities of New Rochelle, Eastchester, Greenburgh, Pelham Manor, Bronxville, Tuckahoe, Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson, Pelham, Port Chester, Rye Brook, and Rye.

Customers who have fallen behind on their water bills and meet income eligibility guidelines are eligible for up to $2,500 of assistance. Income guidelines are based on size of household. A family of four making up to $65,820 would be eligible for help. To date, nearly 270 households in Westchester have gotten help with their bills, with an average benefit of $1,600.

The program is currently set to expire at the end of 2023, so it is crucial that people who need help reach out now. Further information and applications are available at the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s LIHWAP web page.

Customers can also reach out by phone to the NYS LIHWAP Call Center at 1-833-690-0208 or by email at .