City of Detroit offers help: What to do if your water is shut off

DETROIT - Thousands of water shutoffs in Detroit continue to create turmoil between citizens and the water department.

"They shut off the water two doors down, right where that pickup is parked and the third house, then they come to me," says Joe Link. 
 
Joe was on a payment plan and says he fell behind by a few days after being laid off. His average monthly bill was $80-$90 dollars. 
 
"If you can't find a job what are you supposed to do," says Link. 
 
To get some answers we took Joe's water bill downtown to the Deputy Director Darryl Latimer.
 
He says, "We haven't turned anybody away or failed to restore water to anybody who has shown a true affordability issue. When customers have these issues we want them to call the department."
 
He adds people can call (313) 267-8000  for help. There's also assistance through THAW at (877) 646-2831 .
 
A press release was issued by the City of Detroit on Friday with a more detailed list of resources for residents: 
 
Downtown Customer Service Center - Water Board Building
735 Randolph Street, First Floor (enter off Bates Street)
Monday through Saturday 8:30am - 5:00pm, (closed on Saturday from 12 to 12:30pm)
 
Eastside Customer Service Center
13303 E. McNichols (1 1/2 blocks west of Gratiot)
Monday through Friday 8:30am - 5:00pm
 
Westside Customer Service Center
15600 Grand River (1 block west of Greenfield)
Monday through Friday 8:30am - 5:00pm.
 
The release also suggested customers apply for assistance : 
 
Wayne Metro Community Action Agency. Wayne Metro has already provided $1 million in water bill assistance to Detroit residents since August 2013 through a contract with DHS and has about $300,000 still available. Those dollars came to DHS from a federal Community Services Block Grant. Assistance is available to low-income households. Recipients are required to take a financial literacy or utility conservation course. Call (313)388-9799.
 
•The DHS State Emergency Relief program. Up to $175 per year in assistance is available to qualifying low-income households. Apply online at www.mibridges.michigan.gov or at your local DHS office. Call 2-1-1 or go to www.michigan.gov/dhs and click on the “DHS Contacts” tab if you don’t know the location of the office that serves you.
 
•DHS emergency services. This program provides additional assistance beyond State Emergency Relief. It is a “last resort” funding source for people who can demonstrate they have exhausted funding from other possible resources and are unable to get services restored. The application process is the same as for State Emergency Relief.

"When you're getting to the range of 40-50% of your customers in delinquent status, that becomes alarming so you have to react to that," says Latimer.

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