WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — DEFG, a research and advisory firm focused on customer strategy and experience in the utility sector (www.defgllc.com), is issuing a call to the media to expand their coverage of Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funding assistance to customers facing evictions and utility disconnections.
“The media has quite rightly focused on the pending threat of eviction as the moratorium ends,” stated Jamie Wimberly, CEO of DEFG. “However, the ERA funding is intended to also avoid a situation where you can have a family able to remain in their home but face possible disconnection of their light and heat due to non-payment going into winter.”
- The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA) estimates $40 billion of utility customer arrearages.
- U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 1 out of 6 American adults have not paid some level of their utility bill over the past 12 months. This does not include how many children, elderly or others under their care are impacted.
- In August 2021, DEFG conducted a survey of low-income utility customers. Almost half of the at-risk customers surveyed are clearly feeling high levels of anxiety over the prospect of paying their utility bills and possibly needing assistance.
- In the same DEFG survey, 24 percent of the low-income respondents indicated that they had only made a partial payment or missed a payment to their utility over the past 12 months.
- Approximately 10 percent of the ERA funding to help these customers has been disbursed, with some states having much lower rates of disbursement.
“We are calling on the media community to report on this crisis of customers going into winter with the risk of losing their utility service,” stated Jamie Wimberly. “The assistance funding is there but it is time-stamped as a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. We all need to raise awareness of the full scope of the ERA funding, including keeping the lights on for millions of Americans.”
DEFG is a research and advisory firm in the utility sector focused on customer strategy and experience. DEFG runs the Low Income Energy Issues Forum (LIEIF) and has been at the forefront of bringing new options and approaches to better serve low-income customers in the utility sector.