Pryor calls for an extension to utilities disconnect moratorium
INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) today sent a letter to Governor Holcomb that urges him to extend the moratorium on disconnecting utilities, which is set to expire in less than a week (June 30).
In her letter, she explains that amid this pandemic, state officials have consistently emphasized the importance of sanitization and handwashing, which would be impossible to continue if utilities were turned off. To take away these basic services, she says, would be inhumane.
“The expiration of the moratorium is not reflective of the economic reality that many Hoosiers are facing, especially in Black and Latino communities where unemployment rates are higher and confidence in being able to pay rent is lower, according to Prosperity Indiana and U.S. Census data,” Pryor said.
“Allowing utilities to disconnect will impact education at home, working from home, job searching online, and bring other effects that will only exacerbate financial hardship.”
Read the full letter below.
June 25, 2020
The Honorable Eric Holcomb
Governor of Indiana
200 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Dear Governor Holcomb,
As the pandemic continues to impact our economy, I am concerned that the June 30th expiration of the utilities disconnect moratorium will further harm households across the state. While the state is moving forward with re-opening, DWD continues to process a large volume of first-time unemployment claims and will continue to do so for several months as workers and business owners grapple with the recession.
It is important to keep in mind what we know about COVID-19 and how it is spread. Health officials consistently state the importance of washing hands and sanitizing surfaces. It would be impossible for families that don’t have utilities to do these basic functions. Meaning the spread of the virus will overwhelm those households and potentially anyone they may come in contact with. It would be inhumane to allow services to be turned off during this pandemic.
Additionally, in the IURC's order to investigate the petitions filed by the OUCC and utility companies the Commission noted that “…it would be unreasonable to expect that the financial, health, and other hardships currently being experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic would immediately disappear upon expiration of any public health declaration or disconnection moratorium.”
The expiration of the moratorium is not reflective of the economic reality that many Hoosiers are facing, especially in Black and Latino communities where unemployment rates are higher and confidence in being able to pay rent is lower according to Prosperity Indiana and U.S. Census data. In the coming weeks, households will be destabilized by looming eviction proceedings and the loss of utilities that support their lives. Allowing utilities to disconnect will impact education at home, working from home, job searching online, and bring other effects that will only exacerbate financial hardship.
In addition to extending the moratoria on utilities disconnect and evictions, I would welcome the opportunity to work with you and your administration to develop sweeping plans and programs to assist Hoosiers in keeping them in their housing and with their utilities connected.
Cherrish S. Pryor, Democratic Floor Leader
House District 94