Utility bills come due as pandemic worsens, winter arrives

November 30, 2020

The needs of Greater Clevelanders have come in waves during the pandemic, much like the virus itself: first food, then rent, then internet so students could learn from home.

Now, as moratoriums that staved off utility disconnections cascade to an end, some families face a long winter unsure how they will keep the lights, heat, and water on. Moratoriums on shut-offs with Cleveland Public Power and the Cleveland Water Department, for example, ends tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The utilities, some privately-run and regulated by the state and others operated by municipalities, offer payment plans and programs to help customers with bills, which in some cases have mounted for months. Those bills are larger than usual for some due to state and local moratoriums, which halted utilities from shutting services off, but did not stop the bills.

Molly Black, community navigation trainer and coach for United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 211 helpline.However, utility assistance programs are tough for people to negotiate on their own, says Molly Black, community navigation trainer and coach for United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 211 helpline.