(INDIANAPOLIS) – In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens Action Coalition and the Indiana Community Action Association are calling on Governor Holcomb to not only extend Indiana’s Winter Disconnect Moratorium, which officially ended Sunday but also to put in place a statewide moratorium on any and all utility disconnects until this crisis passes.
In Indiana, about a third of Hoosiers struggle to meet their basic needs. Community Action Agencies across the state see this every day as they provide services to low-income families, such as Weatherization Assistance and LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program). Citizens Action Coalition hears from hundreds of Hoosiers every week who struggle to pay their utility bills.
This aligns with data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which found in 2015 that nearly one in three Midwesterners experienced household energy insecurity and nearly one in five reported “reducing or foregoing food or medicine in order to pay for energy bills.”
“As more and more Hoosiers, most especially children, are being asked to stay home, the need to ensure that every household in Indiana has access to essential utility services is a must,” said Kerwin Olson, Executive Director of CAC.
Furthermore, low-income households will bear the economic brunt of this crisis. Three of the five largest occupations in Indiana are in the service sector and pay less than $11.00 per hour. According to the 2018 Occupational Employment statistics data, nearly 36% of Hoosier jobs pay less than $15.00 per hour.
“Many service sector employees do not have access to paid sick time and many in the service sector cannot work from home, meaning that they will very likely end up without a paycheck as this pandemic carries on,” says Ed Gerardot, Executive Director of INCAA.
Utility service is crucial to our modern lives. We are grateful to NIPSCO, Duke Energy, Indiana-American, Citizens Energy Group, and others for voluntarily suspending disconnections. “We must also be mindful of those households who may currently be without service, including water. We applaud Citizens and Indiana-American for their commitment to restore service to those lacking access and encourage the other utilities to follow their lead,” added Mr. Olson.
However, it is critical to ensure that none of our vulnerable citizens are left out of this protection. We respectfully ask Governor Holcomb to ACT NOW to not only extend the disconnect moratorium, but also enact a statewide moratorium and protect all Hoosiers from utility disconnects.