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Help with Utility Bills? Some Government Agencies Offer Assistance as Disconnect Moratoriums End

photo of Cleveland City Hall
The City of Cleveland lifted its moratoriums on utility shut offs on December 1.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, many cities in Northeast Ohio placed a moratorium on utility shut-offs as people struggled with job loss and health care issues. As those moratoriums start to expire, people still need help with their bills.

Brandy Smith says she’s facing a gas bill from her childhood home that’s up to about $4,000. When her father passed away two years ago, Dominion said the furnace there wasn’t usable and red-tagged it. Yet according to her, they apparently turned the gas back on and have been adding to the balance ever since – even though she’s been staying elsewhere. In Smith’s opinion, there’s only one word to describe the situation.

“Traumatizing; I feel like a victim. I feel like I’m being scammed by my utility. I don’t feel like they’re [considerate] or accommodating to me, a customer.”
Although Smith’s issue started before the coronavirus pandemic, she may still be able to get help from agencies such as Cuyahoga Cares or Legal Aid.
The Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative created this guide with up-to-date information on utility assistance programs. We want to hear from Northeast Ohioans who are struggling to pay large bills or have gotten disconnection notices. Have you tried to get help? You can share your experience here or email us at bhatia@wksu.org.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.