This past Monday, my planned 20 minute walk turned into an hour as I marveled at the beauty of northern Virginia covered in snow, including street signs. So yes, I missed a turn and got lost. When I got home, I turned on the lights and a heater. My day went on. All the energy I’m using this week will taunt me during next month’s utility bill.
I live in a neighborhood with class differences; families living next to Lake Barcroft, a private property, and two or more families crammed into a one bedroom unit. In November 2021, I moved with my mom to a unit down the street to save a few hundred dollars on rent. Many of my Latinx and immigrant neighbors are doing the same. Our future is so uncertain: a positive COVID test? Unemployment? Eviction? And now, with a 2021 report from the Center for Biological Diversity of utility disconnections over late or unpaid bills throughout the country, many people are asking: Will I have utilities next month?
Current Virginia laws don’t support vulnerable populations. If you’d like to send a petition to your legislator about this utility issue, visit the Appalachian Voices action page. North Carolina, Mississippi, and Maryland, among many other states, are further along in humane utility rules. When the Virginia General Assembly reconvenes later this month, legislators must prioritize improved utility policy; too many lives are at stake.