Washington D.C. - Moments ago, Speaker Pelosi released CARES 2, the next coronavirus stimulus package. The bill includes a national moratorium on water shutoffs with service restoration and allocates $1.5 billion for low-income water aid.
The legislation requires all recipients of assistance from CARES 2 to ensure home water service continuity by suspending shutoffs for nonpayment and reconnecting service and waiving of all late fees during the emergency. The legislation will also create a new program to give $1.5 billion in grants to states and indigenous communities to assist water providers in reducing water and wastewater bills for low-income households and households experiencing COVID related-job loss.
In response, Food & Water Action Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:
“Grassroots efforts across the country have finally paid off today as our Congressional leaders move to protect the human right to water. Food & Water Action called for a national moratorium on water shutoffs due to nonpayment when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we’ve been pushing for national water protection ever since.
“While more than 650 localities and 15 states responded and mandated moratoriums on disconnecting residents, many of these have expired or will expire soon. Meanwhile, more than one-third of this country was never protected from water shutoffs. That’s nearly 120 million people. In dozens of localities from Russellville, Alabama, to Clark, Missouri to Bayard, New Mexico, l people are still getting shut off. In some communities, people have been living without running water for years.
“Now Congress has a chance to finally deliver on the human right to water, and with the current economic crisis and unemployment reaching record highs, it’s more important than ever that they do. We urge both the Senate and the House to act in the public’s interests and pass this bill. It shouldn’t have taken a public health disaster, but we’re eager to see a newfound commitment from our leaders on water.”
Food & Water Action has been providing a live tracker of local and state action on water during the pandemic. State action expiration dates are also listed. See here.