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Can Cities Make Water Affordable? Detroit Offers Hope, and Disappointment

“Almost four years ago, Detroit shut off water for more than 30,000 households who were months late on their water bills.

“The United Nations got involved, saying the shutoffs were ‘contrary to human rights’ because they deprived poor people of access to clean, running water.

“The current director of Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department, Gary Brown, agrees. And yet, the same scenario is likely to happen again next month.

“‘The United Nations was in Detroit protesting, rightfully so, the way Detroiters were being treated with these shutoffs,’ says Brown, who joined the water department in 2016. ‘We’re not a private company that’s here to make a profit. We have a social responsibility to make sure that water is affordable.’

“The city has spent the last few years trying to help people afford their water bills but has had limited success.

“It established an assistance program that reduces the monthly water bill for low-income households and helps them pay off their water debt. In exchange, people in the program have to keep up with their current, reduced payments. More than 4,000 households participate.”

FULL STORY Published on April 24, 2018 by GOVERNING