Detroit Water Fund corporate donations total $200,000; shutoffs -

Detroit Water Fund corporate donations total $200,000; shutoffs resume Aug. 25

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At the United Way call center, operators field phone call after phone call from people in need.

Now the latest effort to avoid water shutoffs has come from United Way, Ford and General Motors for a total of $200,000 to the Detroit Water Fund helping low income Detroiters who can't afford their water bills.

"You would just need to show your government issued photo ID, your social security card and a shutoff notice," said one operator to a caller.

"I want to encourage anyone that is struggling to make a payment on that to make a call into 211," said Michael Brennan, of United.

"If you have an outstanding bill. We'll work with you but you have to take the initiative to come in," said Duggan.

Mayor Mike Duggan took control of the water department shortly after thousands took to the street to demand an end to the water shutoffs.

This was followed by a moratorium on shutoffs but they are set to resume next week, which is why it's so important for people who are behind to make arrangements to pay right now.

During the moratorium the city says 7,400 residents entered into payment plans, but the city says 77,000 residential customers are delinquent and if they're not in a payment plan they are in danger of shutoffs once the moratorium is lifted August 25th.

"Every time someone in Detroit doesn't pay their bill, it's other Detroiters that bear that cost and we have to keep water costs affordable," Duggan said.

The city is currently hanging signs on people's doors in hopes of avoiding shutoffs and the funding announced today should help as well.

John Blanchard from the General Motors Foundation said that, "We just wanted to do a little bit to give back to the community."

Activist Maureen Taylor has helped lead the charge to stop the shutoffs, she's glad to see companies stepping up to help those in need.

"It's really heartening that corporations now understand that it's something inherently wrong with turning off water - it just shouldn't be done," she said.

Starting Aug. 11 Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Customer Care Centers began processing applications for the Detroit Water Fund. By paying down 10 percent of their past due balance, eligible city residents will receive up to 25 percent assistance with their bill from the new Detroit Water Fund.

To be eligible for Detroit Water Fund assistance must:

 - Have an outstanding balance between $300 and $1,000;
 - Maintain average water usage for their household size;
 - Are either enrolled in DTE's low income self-sufficiency plan;
 - Or have income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, for example a family of four must have an annual income below $35,775.

Customers can visit the service centers or come to the water fair Saturday August 23rd at Cobo Hall  from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. where they can make payment arrangements.

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