A coalition of eleven community organizations based in the Heart of Knoxville is endorsing a ballot initiative that if passed will benefit the hundreds of residents the coalition has heard from directly on this issue, i.e. the Knoxville Utilities Board billpayers most at risk of having their utilities disconnected.
As a partnership of nonprofit, non-government agencies, churches, businesses, and individuals based in the Heart of Knoxville, in 2019 Community Voices conducted a door-to-door survey of over 700 inner-city residents. “Unaffordable Utilities” was identified as one of residents’ most critical concerns (second only to gun violence).
When residents who took the survey were later invited to help come up with ideas to address unaffordable utilities, putting a low-income representative on the KUB Board became one of the key proposals adopted for the Community Voices Equity Framework.
Adding a low-income Board member is one of a package of KUB reforms in a city charter amendment to be placed upon the November ballot, pending City Council approval.
“With a looming deadline for KUB to restart service disconnections in the middle of a pandemic, we are glad to partner with SACE and others to bring more layers of protection and energy equity to our most vulnerable residents in this precarious economy,” said Stefen White, Chair of Community Voices’ Affordable Utilities Council. “Our efforts now are to ask the people at large whether these changes make sense to them,” White continued. “So we ask City Council to make that possible with their vote to put these proposals on the ballot this November.”