DETROIT (WWJ/AP) — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan wasn’t directly available for comment after the United Nations’ news conference regarding water shutoffs in the city, but Chief of Staff Alexis Wiley described his reaction as “disappointed.”
Wiley said UN representatives weren’t interested in the “numbers” — including the 33,000 Detroit Water customers who have signed up for payment plan assistance — when they met with the Mayor on Monday.
“We spent an hour and a half going through each of the points that they brought up in their press release and making it clear that what they were saying was not accurate, and they still chose to put out a press release and have a fiery press conference that didn’t include the facts,” Wiley said.
Wiley said that since the introduction of Mayor Duggan’s “10-Point” plan to deal with water department delinquencies, there has been nearly a two-fold increase in the number of water customers who are entering payment plans, while requests for financial assistance have dropped by more than 50 percent.
“They said that people were losing their homes because of water liens; we said that we stopped that practice,” Wiley said. “They said that kids are being pulled out of homes; we said that we have that data showing kids are not being pulled out of homes simply because the home doesn’t have water.
“We’re very disappointed with the UN,” Wiley said.
Special rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing Leilani Farha and special rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque were to informally stop by neighborhoods over the weekend where water has been shut off.
“There are people who like a good show and will exploit the fact that they have a stage,” Wiley said.
The water department says more than 27,000 shutoffs were made between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30.
Most shutoffs were halted for several weeks during the summer to give customers a chance to enter payment plans, but they resumed and topped 5,100 in September.
“To make an opinion without actually getting data and saying that because you talked to a few people who are in litigation with the city and say, ‘well that’s the facts,’ that to me is disappointing, but it’s kind of scary,” Wiley said.
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