Michigan residents demand water affordability plan at State Capitol hearing

A large contingent of residents from all over the state converged on a hearing at the State Capitol to call for water rates to be based on income and ability to pay. The Detroit People’s Water Board Coalition organized a busload of residents to attend and give testimony at a hearing on water affordability and safety held by State Representatives Stephanie Chang of Detroit and Sheldon Neely of Flint. Families who’s water has been shut off and advocates of water as a human right both focused on the need for water rates that reflect ability to pay and spoke in support of the Water Affordability Plan .
“These hearings come at a crucial time. Tens of thousands of families in Detroit are in danger of having their homes taken and their water shutoff,” said Attorney Alice Jennings. “Residents need to be able to pay based on their income not on the current payment plans that have failed them. The Water Affordability Plan will give people the ability to pay based on the reality of what they can afford. That will avert a major public safety hazard.”
People directly affected by water shut offs testified with the most urgency at the hearing.
“I know what’s it’s like to struggle and still have your water shutoff,” said Nicole Hill, a Detroit resident threatened with water shut off. “The fact is, we’ve been punished enough working to make ends meet. The payment plan that Mayor Mike Duggan is trying work through the Water Department is not working. If his plan is working, why are they still shutting people’s water off? The plan needs to meet people where they are. If I had a plan based on my income rather than a number made up by someone else, I could find my way out, I could keep my water on.”
This hearing followed the International Gathering of Social Movements: three days of international meetings on legal, legislative and social movement actions and strategies to implement and enforce water affordability and accessibility. Representatives from nearly two dozens U.S. states, four countries and 95 organizations participated and are in support of the Chang-Neeley hearing on water.

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