NCNAACP to Cooper: Further extend Utilities Moratorium
By Cash Michaels
Poor and low-income North Carolinians are still at risk of having their electric and water cut off in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, says NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, and that’s why he asked Gov. Roy Cooper this week to “…protect those low-income households most at risk of losing essential utility services.”
In an August 29th letter to the governor, Rev. Dr. Spearman warns that an earlier executive order protecting those least able to pay for those utility services is running out.
“Over a million residential households that owed well over $200 million in unpaid utility bills as of the end of July are now at risk,” Dr. Spearman wrote. This is over double the reports number of households that were unable to pay their rent bills from when I called on you to extend the moratorium at the end of May. And this number far exceeds the money currently available for utility bill payment assistance.”
“We must do more,” Spearman insists.
The NCNAACP leader maintains that despite previous executive orders from the governor seeking to help the situation for those who can’t afford to pay their outstanding utility bills, “…many households will nevertheless be unable to afford their past due utility bills and will face disconnection even as the summer heat continues.”
“Without access to electricity for air conditioning…[or] access to clean running water…many will be at a health risk,” Dr. Spearman maintains.
“This utility affordability crisis is not felt evenly across our communities. It disproportionately impacts low-wealth households, the elderly, and Black and Brown families,” Rev. Spearman went on.
“I ask that you issue a new Executive Order to protect those low-income households most at-risk of losing essential utility services,” the civil rights leader requested. “The North Carolina State conference of the NAACP supports the ‘Income qualified shutoff moratorium and repayment plan replacing [previous executive orders] that was submitted to your office last week. This [is a] targeted measure to protect those who have been thrown into financial turmoil because of the pandemic. This new order should also require the reconnection of those eligible households who were previously disconnected for nonpayment.”
Dr. Spearman continued that the proposed new executive order should remain in effect beyond the end of the State of Emergency declared “…to make sure that households have time to get back on their feet before facing risk of losing essential utility service.”