Over the past couple of months, the poor in Detroit have been battling it out with the local water company. Since mid-June 2014, there have been multiple reports on DetroitWaterBrigade.org that people with overdue bills are not allowed to pay and have their services restored. However, the news over the past 24 hours has left some hope with the 40,000+ Detroit natives that got cut off in May, 2014 and are now living without running water in their homes. MSNBC reports that some residents are paying 30 percent of their monthly income on their water bills. Local celebrities such as Lennox Yearwood of the Detroit Hip Hop Caucus have taken a stand.
History of the Detroit Water Crisis
Detroit filed for bankruptcy on July 18, 2013, and this left the city in a downward spiral. Among other issues, in late March 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the local water company decided to contemplate selling this public company to a private corporation. Because of this decision, account holders with outstanding bills were left high and dry. This led to the formation of the Detroit Water Brigade and a call for donations to bring water to those affected by the unfair practices. The United Nations also took a stand on the issue and declared that water was a human right.
Water rights restored to local government
At the Detroit Water Brigade website, an announcement was placed on their website about one month after the organizing began. In their words, “We commend the move by Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, City Council and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Rhodes to return control of Detroit’s water to the democratically elected leadership of the city of Detroit.”
Struggle not over yet
Despite their progress, organizers of the Detroit Water Brigade are still working on issues that are making water bills unaffordable to local citizens. In the future, their focus will be on their Water Affordability Plan. This movement is likely to spread across the country as water companies in Baltimore and St. Louis have also cut off water to customers that cannot pay.