The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged millions of families into poverty — and more than ever, Americans are having trouble paying their bills and meeting basic needs. A new report from researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles measured the extent of the debt that has accumulated in unpaid bills for families in Los Angeles struggling to keep the lights, gas, and water on through the pandemic.
The report, which used public data collected by the California State Water Resources Board about Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers in November 2020, found that one-quarter to one-third of households in Los Angeles have utility debt. These impacts are not equally felt across the city — 64 percent of people severely affected by utility debt are Latino, and Black communities also experience disproportionate levels of debt. Lower-income neighborhoods, renters, and people with limited English proficiency also face higher debt burdens.
Silvia González is a part of a research group that has been documenting the impacts of the pandemic on low-income communities and communities of color. González says that the geographic pattern in t... Read more