Fund To Help Struggling Detroit Water Customers, Flood Cleanup
DETROIT (AP) – Detroit residents with unpaid water bills and others looking at an expensive cleanup from recent flooding will get some help from $2 million contributed by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.
About $1.7 million of that will go into a fund designed to help people avoid service shutoffs as the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department plans to resume disconnections next week. The rest will go to flooding cleanup after heavy rains nearly two weeks ago, the Lansing-based nonprofit announced Friday.
The money will be administered through the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, which is partnering with the Detroit Water Fund and Project H20 Flood Clean Up.
The Detroit Water Fund will pay up to 25 percent of an overdue bill. To qualify, a customer must owe $300 or more, pay at least 10 percent up front and meet other conditions, based on income.
Water department officials began an aggressive shut-off campaign in March for customers who had unpaid bills, disconnecting 500 that month. More than 3,000 lost service in April and about 4,500 in May. The shutoffs topped 7,200 in June.
As of July 1, more than $89 million was owed on nearly 92,000 past-due residential and commercial accounts. But several groups appealed to the U.N. for support. In response, shut-offs were suspended July 21 but will resume next week.
The city has been encouraging customers to attend “water fair” events, such as one scheduled at the Cobo Center on Saturday, to make payment plans and avoid shutoffs.
“This commitment from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund will help us make sure more low-income Detroiters have the help they need to keep their water on after the shut-off moratorium ends on Aug. 25,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Friday.
Earlier this week, the United Way announced it was contributing $100,000 to the Detroit Water Fund, while the Ford Motor Fund and the General Motors Foundation are giving $50,000 each.
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