By Tony Romm, Jeff Stein, and Alyssa Fowers: For Complete Post, Click Here…
Billions of dollars in coronavirus stimulus aid have yet to reach families facing back-due utility bills, worrying experts and lawmakers in Michigan and across the country.
Michigan residents who are behind on their water bills could see their taps start to run dry in five days, once a state shut-off ban instituted at the height of the coronavirus pandemic expires. But Monica Lewis-Patrick said she isn’t waiting around for that to happen.
The 55-year-old Detroit-based activist leaped into action last week, purchased about 68,000 water bottles and set in motion a plan to truck them to families across the state out of a fear that other government aid may not reach them in time.
“There is no policy, no safety, after March 31, from seeing massive numbers of people at risk,” said Lewis-Patrick, president of We the People of Detroit, a community advocacy organization.
But the wave of potential water shut-offs in Michigan reflects a broader, national crisis in the making: Utility protections enacted in the early months of the pandemic are slated to expire in some states — including Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont — over the next few weeks. The looming lapses have registered new urgent alarm among congressional lawmakers and community activists nationwide, who say the Biden administration should have acted faster, and sooner, to distribute federal aid to households at risk.