Over Half Of Detroit Residents Can’t Pay Water Bill, UN May Be Stepping In

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June 23, 2014 2:27pm PST

According to CBSDetroit, over half of the people living in Detroit can’t pay their water bills, and now the United Nations may be stepping in to help the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department provide service to its struggling customers.

It’s a possibility, according to the department spokeswoman Curtrise Garner. However for now she says that the residents have to pay their bills if they want water.

“We do have programs that do help those that are just totally in need; can’t afford it — but we also know that there are also people who can’t afford it would can not pay and we know this because, once we shut water off, the next day they are in paying the bill in full. So we do know that that has become a habit as well,” Garner told CBSDetroit.

“At the DWAS Department — it’s not our goal to shut off water. We want people’s water on, just like they do; but you do have to pay for your water…That’s the bottom line.”

The reality of the situation, Garner says, is that nearly half of her customers can’t pay their water bills. The shocking figures have caused activists to lobby the UN to step in and provide aid to the bankrupt city.

She said that if the UN does contact the city’s water department that they are willing to talk to them about the issue, but that they owe it to their paying customers to go after the ones who refuse to pay. “Somebody has to pay for the water,” she added.

The activists that have petitioned the UN are alleging that the crackdown on non-paying customers is part of an effort to “sweeten the pot for a private investor” to take over the city’s water system as a part of Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings. However according to the Detroit News, nearly 50% of the city’s customers owe a combined $175 million in unpaid water bills which prompted the heavily-indebted department to start cracking down.

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