Infrastructure services like water and sewer, electricity and gas, transportation, telephone, and broadband are essential to everyday life, but they are not always affordable to households. The economic impacts of COVID-19 have only exacerbated affordability challenges and created an additional barrier to economic opportunity. While 32 states have enacted emergency orders to bar utility shutoffs, many are set to expire soon, leaving millions of American households in dire circumstances.
On Tuesday, September 15, the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program convened a discussion examining the challenges around affordability and exploring solutions that will bring relief to household budgets. Mayor Byron Brown provided keynote remarks on innovative ways Buffalo, N.Y., is providing relief to households struggling with utility costs. Two panel conversations followed to break down how utility costs can be tracked and measured and explore tech-based solutions designed to achieve greater affordability for households in need of financial support.