A substantial number of low-income households are having difficulty paying their energy bills during the COVID-19 pandemic — with families of color and those with young children especially hard hit, according to recent Indiana University research.
The big picture: YouGov conducted a survey of 2,381 respondents from low-income households in May (overall margin of error is about 2%) and found that 13% had been unable to pay an energy bill during the prior month.
- Another 9% had received an electricity shutoff notice.
- 4% had their service disconnected.
Why it matters: While many states have temporarily banned utility disconnections during the crisis, a lot of people are nonetheless losing access, according to IU professors Sanya Carley and David Konisky, who describe their research in a new(ish) post at The Conversation.
- "[E]xtrapolating our findings to the national level suggests that approximately 800,000 low-income households may have recently had their electricity disconnected."
- They argue Congress should impose a national moratorium on utility shut-offs and boost assistance to help families pay energy bills.
Where it stands: The pandemic response package enacted in March provided another $900 million for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, but Carley and Konisky write this just "scratches the surface" of what's needed.
- The latest economic package before the Senate includes another $1.5 billion for LIHEAP.