Although the number of requests to 2-1-1 helplines for utility payment assistance have increased in most states during the COVID-19 pandemic, the increases are not as large or universal as those for food, rent assistance and other needs. Why? Very early on in the pandemic, some states suspended disconnection of utilities for non-payment. It’s possible that residents in these states turned their attention and limited resources to filling other needs, knowing that the threat of disconnection was delayed. In the chart below, we compared the number of requests related to electric, gas, water and other utility payments from March 12-30, 2020 to the same days in 2019. Blue bars show states with increased utility requests and red bars show states with fewer requests than in 2019. All of the states in red enacted consumer protections from disconnected utilities, some as early as March 13, 2020.
Contributors: Balaji Golla, Irum Javed, Matthew Kreuter