Gillibrand urges congress to require nationwide halt to utility services shut-offs during COVID-19 pandemic

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From the office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:

As New York’s Unemployment Soars Due to COVID-19, Many Will Struggle to Pay Utility Bills For the Foreseeable Future

While Many Utilities in New York Have Stopped Service Disconnections and Late-Fee Collection During the Pandemic, Congress Must Ensure that the Most Vulnerable Americans Have Uninterrupted Access to Basic Utility Services. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined a bicameral call urging Congress to put a nationwide moratorium on essential utility service disconnections as Americans are asked to stay home throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Losing access to basic utilities including electricity, water, heat, and internet adds to the economic burdens already felt during this tumultuous public health crisis. Utilities provide New Yorkers the ability to follow essential CDC guidelines and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Specifically, access to running water is essential for consistent hand washing, while electricity keeps refrigerators running, allowing families to preserve food and delay trips to the grocery store.

“We all have an essential role to play combatting the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As we ask people to stay home, wash their hands, and follow public health guidelines, we must ensure all Americans have uninterrupted access to critical utilities. We are in this together, and it is our duty as public officials to make these resources available for the public good.”

The utility shut-off moratorium would not only provide comfort and security for American families, but it would also begin to address the systemic issues driving utility burdens across the country. Newly unemployed Americans must pay bills while trying to stay healthy. Communities of color and rural, tribal, and low-income communities are especially impacted by utility insecurity. This moratorium would provide immediate relief and a sense of stability for vulnerable New Yorkers and families across the nation. 

In the letter, Senator Gillibrand pushed for at least a six-month nationwide moratorium in order to provide a sufficient grace period for families to recover from unemployment and other coronavirus-related impacts. Additionally, the letter requests that all late fees and bill payments for low-income families be forgiven through the end of the grace period.

Full text of the letter can be found here

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