Back in the early days of the pandemic, March of 2020, the city of Cleveland announced it would help residents during the pandemic by temporarily stopping shutoffs of power and water in homes and apartments, even if people were behind on their bills.
At the time, the city said it was out of concern for public health, saying it was difficult to wash hands without water, and get them clean, without warm water.
That shutoff moratorium lifted on Dec. 1 of last year, even as the pandemic continued.
The city said that the decision to resume disconnections was done with "great concern and awareness of the financial difficulties and other vulnerabilities" many customers were facing, due to the pandemic. It also said that financial relief tools were in place to help customers in need.
At the time, about 90,000 Cleveland Water customers were behind on payments.
A year later, that number has grown to about 93,000 that are at least one month behind on their water bills, as of November of this year. That translates to about 1 out of every five Cleveland Water customers being behind on their bills.
The Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative has been following this issue as part of its "Making Ends Meet" project, and Report for America Corps Member, Conor Morris joined the "Sound of Ideas" to discuss some of that reporting.
Also this hour, a look back at all the arts and culture happenings of 2021. And, the final Applause Performance of the year, features some holiday cheer from a Northeast Ohio brass ensemble.
- Conor Morris, Report for America Corps Member, Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative
- Pearl Chen, Spokesperson, Utilities for All
- Carrie Wise, Managing Producer, Arts & Culture, Ideastream Public Media
- David C. Barnett, Senior Arts Reporter, Ideastream Public Media