DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Two United Nations human rights experts in Detroit to observe the impact of water service shutoffs on city residents are expected to publicly discuss their visit.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and City Council are expected to meet with the UN experts Monday before a news conference in downtown Detroit.

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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.

They’ve already heard from people who’ve lost service because they haven’t paid their bills. Several hundred Detroiters turned out yesterday for a public hearing on the shut offs.

“We only owed like $220 or something and they threatened to cut us off .. I just thought it was unwarranted because the bill is really low,” said one resident.

The water department says more than 27,000 shutoffs were made between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30.

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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.

Groups opposing the shutoffs appealed in June to the U.N. for support.

The U.N. officials can make recommendations — but they can’t force the city to make changes.


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