Detroit – A moratorium on water cuts in Michigan is expected to be lifted by the end of this year, and the mayor of Detroit, along with advocates, announced a plan on Tuesday to prevent those most at risk from running out of water once they do. is.
Low-income Detroiters will soon have their water bills adjusted based on income rather than water usage, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will use new standards to charge low-income residents 1.8% of their average monthly household income for water as part of a new plan they call the “Detroit Lifeline Plan.”
“It’s been a long road to get here. No one in this city should lose the water supply because of the inability to pay,” Duggan said at a news conference at Detroit’s public safety headquarters.
The program will be supported by regional, state and federal funds.
Earlier Tuesday, DWSD Director Gary Brown said the Board of Water Commission has approved water rates for next year and that 78% of residents will see “a modest drop in their bills and 70% of customers are eligible for a form.” of help.”
It’s a temporary pilot program that has enough money for nearly two years, Brown said.
If residents qualify for SNAP or food aid, they are also eligible for the Lifeline Plan. It’s estimated to be 40%, or 100,000 households, in the city, and they’ll have an $18 monthly water bill, Duggan said.
Those who do not receive aid but are considered low-income have a monthly bill limit of $43 and those middle-income households are limited to $56 per month.
“In 2014 you remember what happened under the emergency manager, water shutdowns all over town, and there was no help at all…with the help of a federal judge, I was able to intervene, stop that, a moratorium, raise $2 million to set up private philanthropy and a program where people can get their water turned on by paying 10% of their bill, and we used the private money to pay the balance,” Duggan said. “That wasn’t enough.”
In 2016, a new water relief plan was drafted with a portion of everyone’s bill in Southeast Michigan going to a relief fund totaling $5 million a year for low-income relief.
“It has helped tens of thousands of people, but not everyone, as we learned when the governor made a major contribution so that we could impose a moratorium on all water cuts during COVID, which will remain in effect until the end of 2022,” Duggan said.
Often the residents who need the help do not have access to the information. Duggan said they learned that by knocking on the door.
“We want to make sure it hasn’t happened again in the final plan,” Duggan said.
From July 1, residents can register via Wayne Subway, a nonprofit that serves low-income residents in Wayne County. New rates are effective August 1.
Duggan said none of the residents will have their water shut-off with the Lifeline Plan. And before the water shuts off on January 1, there is a knock on the door to inform residents of their options.
DWSD and Wayne Metro are working with other organizations on an outreach plan to enroll eligible households in the city.
They will continue to use Detroit-based Human Fliers to explore neighborhoods by knocking on doors at more than 50,000 homes, which began in May.
If water usage exceeds 4,500 gallons per month, the water bill will include a surcharge in addition to the capped Lifeline rate, which often happens due to broken pipes or leaking toilets.
If Governor Gretchen Whitmer approves additional funding, Brown said, Wayne Metro will have access to $10 million a year over the next five years to help low-income residential customers fix leaks in their homes to keep water usage down.
Residents can track their consumption online at: csportal.detroitmi.gov or if they provide their phone number to Wayne Metro, they will be called automatically when usage approaches 3,000 gallons, Brown said.
dr. Abdul El-Sayed, former director of Detroit Health and advocate for national health care, said work on the program began seven years ago when he wasn’t on the same side of the table as the city.
El-Sayed said the plan isn’t perfect and more work can and should be done to make those percentages more generous and sustainable.
“But this was an opportunity for us to come together … what we could do once and for all to meet this challenge, by fundamentally rethinking how we ask Detroiters to pay for water,” El-Sayed. “We’ve finally reached the North Star. No Detroiter will shut off their water because they can’t afford to pay their bill.”