DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Officials say a program to help low-income customers of southeastern Michigan’s water system isn’t running out of money.

Leaders of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and Great Lakes Water Authority said Thursday they continue to enroll residents in the Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP), which started this year to help people avoid water shutoffs.

They deny a report in the Detroit Free Press, which says the program lacks adequate funding and new enrollees aren’t being admitted. The story cites the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, which runs the program on behalf of the water authority.

Agency CEO Louis Piszker says in a release that its public statements had referred to prior funding for the program, but there is still financial help available. She blamed the erroneous reports on a miscommunication.

“Our recent public statements had been referring to the last fiscal year’s funding allocation for Detroit which has been committed and is helping families in need. However, there are funding sources available to help those in need in Detroit and the region,” Piszker said.

At a news conference Thursday, the water department’s director Gary Brown told WWJ’s Stephanie Davis and other reporters that they still have more than $4 million available to Detroiters eligible for assistance. 

“The point here is that fund is not running dry,” Brown reiterated. “We have the cash on hand to accommodate the needs of the customers that are in our system now, and we will continue to look for other ways to find additional dollars…”

After bad publicity and protests over thousands of shutoffs to delinquent accounts in 2014, Detroit announced payment plans and other ways for poor residents to maintain service.

For more information about the assistance program visit this link or call 313-386-9727.

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