TURN Applauds Governor Newsom for Recognizing Utility Debt as Major Issue for California Families

For Immediate Release

Contact: Mark Toney, San Francisco, CA
mtoney@turn.org
(510) 590 2862

Mark Toney, Executive Director for TURN (the Utility Reform Network), applauded California Governor Newsom following today’s announcement that the Governor’s office will propose significant debt relief funds in the upcoming budget. The Governor’s “California Comeback Plan” recommends the state offer a substantial renter assistance package, with billions of dollars to help low-income Californians pay back 100% of their back-rent, their rent for the months to come, and overdue water and utility bills.

“This announcement is a first step toward providing support for our state’s most vulnerable communities and would help families remain in their homes,” said Toney. “As a state already struggling to keep people housed, it’s critical that we take action to protect families on the edge. Even before the devastation of COVID, and in a state often noted for its prosperity, an estimated 3.3 million households live paycheck-to-paycheck*. Many of these households are in communities with a high percentage of ‘essential workers’—the front-line workers who have been the most impacted by the pandemic over the last year. Unfortunately, these communities have been disproportionately devastated by COVID. Without debt relief, struggling families are at significant risk for homelessness.”

Earlier this year, TURN joined a coalition of advocacy groups asking the Governor to take “bold steps” to address this impending crisis. It is estimated that the need for customer energy debt relief has grown to $2 billion. “We appreciate that Governor Newsom heard our message and is taking action,” said Mark.

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“TURN, and our partners and allies, encourage California Legislators to follow the Governor’s example. We ask that legislators commit to this critical budget support for California families. This will help families remain together in their homes, off of the street, and better able to contribute back into our economy,” said Mark.

* The Insight Center (a Bay Area nonprofit) ** Greenlining Institute Study, 2021