People cannot safely stay at home without electricity, water, or internet. Black, Brown, Indigenous and other communities of color have been hit hardest in keeping up with bills and rent during the COVID pandemic. Congress must stand up for all of us, but especially the most vulnerable, and ensure that a national moratorium on all utility services, as well as a national moratorium on evictions and an extension of the federal unemployment subsidy, is a priority in the next relief package currently in negotiations.
This virus has taken a large financial toll on North Carolinians with an estimated 300,000 to 410,000 households unable to pay rent. While the CDC residential eviction moratorium has temporarily prevented approximately 240,000 families in North Carolina from being evicted, this protection is set to expire on December 31st. Similarly, the federal unemployment subsidy which directed relief funds to unemployed workers will end December 31st as many are still struggling and out of work.
This financial stress is further compounded by many households’ inability to pay their utility bills. Almost 1 million NC households are past due in paying their water, electric, and gas bills, and with the state moratoria on both public and regulated utilities expired, these families must now bear the burden of paying all outstanding fees or face shutoff of these essential services. Not only are we in the midst of the pandemic, but with freezing winter months right around the corner, the health and safety implications of sweeping utility shutoffs and evictions are dire.
Congress must protect the health and safety of all North Carolinians during these times, and it starts with federal action. Call Sen. Tillis (202-224-6342) and Sen. Burr (202-224-3154) and urge them to pass a nationwide utility shutoff and eviction moratorium, as well as extending the federal unemployment subsidy, as part of the COVID-19 stimulus package immediately.