Thousands of Indiana residents struggle to pay utility bills

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INDIANAPOLIS — Tens of thousands of Hoosiers have fallen behind on their utility bills during this health pandemic.

Many of them are having to decide to pay the bills or put food on the table.

Duke Energy tells us more than 13,000 of their Indiana customers are behind on their payments and this doesn’t include those only a month behind.

IPL couldn’t give us a specific number but said tens of thousands of customers have fallen behind.

A recent study conducted at Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs found that COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the already vulnerable population.

Out of nearly 2,400 households at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, 22 percent had to reduce or cut back on buying food and medication.

“We’ve seen increased in individuals losing income as a result of the pandemic,” IHCDA’s Director of Community Programs Emily Krauser said.

Under Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order, essential utility services can’t be shut off – but the bills can keep adding up. 

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority recently received a little under $17 million through the CARES Act for their Energy Assistance Program.

“This is a block grant and it’s a grant we get usually throughout the year, but this CARES Act funding did provide about a quarter of what the state typically receives in the program year in additional to our annual,” Krauser explained.

The assistance program typically helps about 110,000 Hoosier households a year and Krauser said they’re anticipating a lot more households needing help this year.

“Those who have already applied and have already received those funds are able to get that CARES Act benefit if they qualify,” Krauser said.

The deadline to sign up for their energy assistance program is July 31st. Click here to sign up.

You can sign up online or visit one of IHCDA’s partner organizations to fill out an application and see if there are other utility assistance programs, you’re eligible for. Click here to see what organization you’re closest too.

To find out how Duke Energy is helping their customers, click here.

To find out how IPL is helping their customers, click here.

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