The City of Cleveland announced late last week that on Dec. 1, the Department of Public Utilities would once again begin disconnecting water and power service for customers behind on their payments.
Under Mayor Frank Jackson's declaration of civil emergency, the city had halted all utility shutoffs on March 13. Officials have now made the decision to resume the standard process for collections and disconnection with "great concern and awareness of the financial difficulties and other vulnerabilities many of our customers are facing due to the pandemic," they say.
In its press release, the city advised that financial relief tools, including extended payment plans, would be in place to assist customers in need.
In recent days, the city said that its moratorium on disconnections was being monitored continually and that the regular process would return "at an appropriate point in time." This summer, there was speculation that the shutoffs would resume much earlier.
During the period of civil emergency, the city not only halted shutoffs but restored service to customers whose water or power had been previously disconnected. Cleveland Public Power restored service to 136 customers. The Cleveland Water Department, which covers a wider service area, reconnected 2,286 customers.
Consumer advocates have argued that resuming shutoffs will make the plight of people living in poverty even more desperate, as many of them are reeling from the economic fallout of the pandemic.
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