For people who lost jobs or income during the pandemic, life has been a series of terrifying deadlines. There was July 24, the end of a federal eviction moratorium from government-backed housing, which had protected about one-third of renters. There was July 30, when a program providing an extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits expired, reducing the incomes of tens of millions of Americans.
Now, the beginning of September looms as yet another deadline as utility companies resume cutting power to customers who have fallen behind on their bills. In some states, moratoriums preventing them from doing so are ending, and in other states, utility company pledges to keep customers connected are winding down. Residents in Ohio, Florida, Maryland, Indiana, and Illinois are all at risk of shutoffs in early September; shutoffs can resume in late September or October in North Carolina,Tennessee and Texas.
“We’re facing a tidal wave of terminations,” says Charlie Harak, senior attorney for energy and utilities issues at the National Consumer Law Center.