KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Activists are calling on the Knoxville Utilities Board to stop disconnecting customers who can’t afford to pay their utility bills.

The Knoxville Water and Energy for All Campaign argues that too many families, especially Black and Brown families, get cut off because they can’t cover utility costs. The groups point to research which they say shows that nearly a quarter of Knoxville households pay more than a tenth of their income to KUB.

“This is an issue that cannot be ignored and it comes to a point because if it’s been happening for so long there has to be a point where its just either willful or just a sense of indifference. And we are hoping that it’s neither,” said Rev. Calvin Talyor Skinner.

KUB stopped cutting off service for a time during the pandemic, but disconnections started again in the fall. This group does recognize steps taken by KUB to ease the blow, but they want more action, like a discount program for low-income households.

KUB sent a statement to WATE saying in part, “KUB remains committed to support for its low-income customers and is a leader in creative efforts to address both emergency assistance needs as well as solutions for the root causes of higher utility bills.”