September 15, 2020 from 10:00 AM–11:15 AM

It’s Time for an Infrastructure “Boost”

Confronting Utility Bill Affordability during the COVID-19 Recession

Hosted by Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

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 will convene a discussion examining the challenges around affordability and exploring solutions that will bring relief to household budgets. Two panel conversations will break down how utility costs can be tracked and measured, and how innovative ideas, like digital banking, can aim to achieve greater affordability for households in need of financial support.

Agenda and Speakers

10:00am – Welcome

  • Adie Tomer, Fellow, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

10:05am – Panel 1 – Defining and Measuring Affordability

  • Moderator: Joseph Kane, Senior Research Associate & Associate Fellow, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program
  • Radhika Fox, Chief Executive Officer, US Water Alliance
  • Diana Hernández, Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
  • Tom Wheeler, Former Chair, Federal Communications Commission; Visiting Scholar, Brookings Governance Studies Program

10:40am – Panel 2 – Achieving Greater Affordability

  • Moderator: Adie Tomer, Fellow, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program
  • Stacy Dean, Vice President for Food Assistance Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Joshua Goldman, Director of Strategy and Business Development, Via
  • Melissa Koide, President and Director, FinRegLab

11:15am – Adjourn