Today, state Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) announced that she will be introducing legislation to impose a moratorium on all utility shutoffs in Ohio during the Covid-19 pandemic. If passed, this legislation will prohibit the curtailing, disruption or disconnection of utility services as well as any action that would lead to the disruption or disconnection of a utility service during the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a Bloomberg report
, between past due rent, late fees and unpaid utility bills, Americans may have collectively owed $70 billion by January, when the federal eviction moratorium expired.
“Ohioans need our help now. There are a lot of people who are still unemployed and are unable to pay their bills,” Williams said. “Ultimately, if they have no income, there is no way to prevent disconnection. This issue is only exacerbated by these harsh winter months. No one should ever have to make the decision between paying rent, feeding their family or keeping the lights and water on, especially during a pandemic.”
Utility companies across the state have resumed utility disconnections due to non-payment after the moratorium ended in December 2020. Since then, many Ohioans have experienced long wait times with utility companies, vague information about programs designed to assist with overdue bills, excessive red tape and paperwork, and unreasonable repayment options.
“People should not have to suffer for circumstances beyond their control,” Williams said. “Despite Covid-19 relief funding to cover utility bills, there are still Ohioans who are behind or ineligible. Without this moratorium, many people may be exposed to extremely low temperatures, lack resources to safely consume food and be unable to effectively fight the virus.”
Sen. Williams will introduce the utility shutoff moratorium legislation next week.