DETROIT – Detroit officials say they’re committed to helping water customers struggling to pay bills and avoid service interruptions that each year shut the taps to thousands of homes.
The city disconnects service to residents who are $150 or 60 days delinquent. So far this year, more than 11,000 homes have been shut from April to Aug. 1, roughly on pace for last year’s total of about 18,000.
Delinquency has been a problem for years in part because Detroit’s bills average about $75 per month and because more than a third of the city lives below the poverty line.
Here are programs and charities available to help:
The Water Residential Assistance Program: Available to both city and suburban residents, the income-based program is designed to prevent shutoffs. But starting July 1, households that have been shut off became eligible for the program that:
- Provides a $25 credit toward monthly bills for 12 months.
- Freezes past due amounts for those who stay current on payment plans and knocks $700 off debts for those who make 12 consecutive payments.
- Provides up to $1,000 worth of conservation and minor plumbing repairs, depending on certain criteria.
- Caveat: The program is only available to residential customers who make no more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level (no more than $17,805 for a single person of $36,450 for a family of four.)
- Call 313-386-WRAP
The Detroit Water and Sewerage 10/30/50 plan: The city’s repayment plan has no income restrictions and lets customers spread payments over a 24-month period. Customers who have been shut off must put down 10 percent deposits for restoration, 30 percent if they are shut off a second time and 50 percent following a third shutoff. Call 313-267-8000.
The Water Access Volunteer Effort (WAVE) Fund: Crisis assistance for low-income families that provides up to $500 to enter a repayment plan. Call 313-267-8000.
Emergency relief: Administered by the state of Michigan, the program provides up to $175 per year in help to low-income households. The state also offers “last resort,” one-time help to continue service for 30 days. Call 855-275-6424 or 2-1-1.
Soldiers and Sailors Relief: A Wayne County program that can help with financial assistance for past-due balances and shutoff avoidance for needy war-time veterans, spouses, widowers or their minor children. Call 313-224-5045.
Charity groups: Nonprofits that deliver bottled water to those without service, assist with reconnection fees and work with city officials on behalf of customers include We the People of Detroit, Hydrate Detroit, the Detroit Water Project and Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength. Other groups that could provide assistance include the Heat & Warmth Fund, United Way for Southeastern Michigan and the Salvation Army.
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