While the the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in job losses left and right, Evansville resident Aerial Jones was thankful she and her husband kept working. Then the bills started coming in.
With two kids at home eating more food and using more energy, her electricity bill doubled — costing as much as $400 a month to run her three-bedroom home.
Jones, an assistant manager at an apartment complex, had never before worried about paying for her utility bill.
But now she turned to a payment plan from her utility, Vectren, to make ends meet without sacrificing other necessities.
"Expenses have gone up ... groceries have gone up," Jones said. "Food is more important right now."
By summertime, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers had fallen more than two months behind on their bills.
For Jones, whose income wasn't interrupted, those rising costs were challenging enough. But, for many, it's even harder to adjust.
The impact has been hardest felt by low-income communities and communities of color, according to a study released by Indiana University last month.
There's no guarantee that the coming months will bring relief for people struggling to pay their bills, especially considering many states are seeing spikes in virus cases that could result in businesses being shut back down, said David Konisky, co-author of the IU survey and professor in university's Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. People may also be running low on the short-term financial assistance such as stimulus checks or higher unemployment benefits.
"If anything," Konisky said, "I would anticipate these problems to get worse in the coming months."
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