Southside and Westside Parent Leaders Speak Out Against High Gas Utility Bills in Sun-Times

“Maria Julia Peña is among Chicagoans feeling the stress of trying to keep up. She wore a sweater and a puffy vest to stay warm in her Brighton Park apartment as she showed her pile of Peoples Gas bills to a reporter. The bill due April 4 had a balance of $415.28.

‘I don’t like to be behind on my bills,’ Peña said in Spanish, speaking through a translator from Community Organizing and Family Issues, a group that offers leadership skills to working and low-income parents and where Peña works part-time.

The former factory worker, immigrant and mother of six — with three kids, ages 12, 14 and 17 still at home — says she tries to pay some of her gas bill each month. But last winter’s high energy prices made it tough to catch up even as she used electric space heaters and kept her thermostat at 60 degrees.

She’s now on a payment plan, sending in about $121 each month.

‘I want to make sure we’re paying it, but it’s been difficult,’ she said.”
Read the full article, which also features leader Evelyn Lewis, here.