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  Detroit Water Department (DWSD) to restore water service at no initial cost to customers during Coronavirus outbreak

• Move is preventive; No cases reported yet in Michigan
• For first 30 days, State of Michigan will cover costs to restore water
• After 30 days, for only $25 per month, customers without water can have it restored; those at risk and not in a current plan can avoid service interruption
• Plan will be in effect for duration of COVID-19 outbreak

DETROIT – Mayor Mike Duggan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Detroit Water and Sewerage Director Gary Brown today announced a Coronavirus Water Restart Plan to mitigate any prospective health risks from the Coronavirus COVID-19 by helping to ensure that all Detroiters have access to water in their homes. Under the jointly-developed plan, for the first 30 days, the State of Michigan will cover customers’ costs to reconnect water service for Detroiters who are currently experiencing or at risk of experiencing a water service interruption due to non-payment. After 30 days, Detroiters who are at risk of a water service interruption will be able to restore or keep their water service by paying only $25 per month.

While there are no reported cases in Michigan, Brown is aware prevention is key. “We know that washing hands is an important defense to this virus, so for the duration of the COVID-19 situation, DWSD is implementing this plan to help make sure every Detroiter has access to clean running water.”

“While there are no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Michigan, one of the best ways to combat the spread of this disease is by washing your hands thoroughly,” said Governor Whitmer. “That’s why the state is stepping up to cover the cost of water restoration for the first 30 days, because it’s the right thing to do to keep families safe and protect public health.”

“Every organization and agency must work together to ensure that we are prepared for COVID-10 cases in our communities,” said Lt Governor Garlin Gilchrist. “This partnership will help some of the most vulnerable to this disease simply because they have fewer financial resources.”

Eligibility
Brown said the plan applies to residents who are currently living without water service and residents who have received a door hanger of a pending water service interruption for nonpayment.
How it works/How to apply

Under the $25 Plan, it is a simple three step process for eligible customers to keep their water flowing:
1. Residents without water, or who have received a door hanger indicating that they are at risk of service interruption, will only need to call Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency at 313-386-9727 to make an appointment.
2. Once an appointment is made, DWSD will begin the process of restoring service or cancelling a pending service interruption. Customers do not have to pay anything at this time.
3. After the first month, customers will be required to pay the $25 per month until the COVID-19 outbreak passes.

The amount of each enrolled customer’s arrearage will be deferred until after the COVID-19 situation is under control. At that time, residents will be transitioned to the WRAP or a 10/30/50 Payment Plan, both of which will keep their water service on as long as they remain current.

“We deeply appreciate Gov. Whitmer’s support and leadership on this issue,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “As long as COVID-19 remains a health concern, no Detroit resident should have concerns about whether their water service will be interrupted.”

Implementation Timeline

Residents can begin calling Wayne Metro on Wednesday, March 11. The Wayne Metro call center is open Monday through Friday 9 AM to 7 PM and Saturday 9 AM to Noon. To prepare for the new program, staff will be trained on Monday and Tuesday of this week and information will be placed on the City’s website. If the Coronavirus situation health risk increases in the state of Michigan, Brown said DWSD will re-evaluate its options.

“We know good hand hygiene is among the protections advised to keep us safe from viral illnesses including COVID-19,” says Detroit Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair. “The WRAP program not only helps those seeking water assistance, it supports us all in the fight toward preventing the spread of this virus in our community.”

$2.4M in assistance available today

On February 26th, with the support and diligent efforts of Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) board appointees from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, the GLWA board transferred an additional $1.1 million in WRAP funds for the City of Detroit and nearly $500,000 for the City of Flint to prevent service interruptions. Detroit currently has $2.4 million available for the WRAP program.
Governor Whitmer also increased the amount of State Emergency Relief Funds that can be used for water payment assistance.

“We encourage any Detroiter who is facing service interruption to take advantage of WRAP and these assistance dollars,” Brown said. “All any resident has to do is make a call to Wayne Metro and they will avoid service interruption. This is the most successful and robust assistance program in the country, resulting in 16,500 Detroit households receiving help that continued water service to their homes. With these options, no one should be without water service.”

“In order to make the most of the WRAP program benefits, we are asking the GLWA Board to act this Wednesday to provide an option to increase WRAP funding and expand the income qualifications,” Mayor Duggan said. “We appreciate Governor Whitmer’s and County Executive Warren Evans’ strong support to further expand WRAP benefits for Detroit water customers.”

Under the proposal, the funding the WRAP program receives each year through its lease with GLWA would double to $5 million for Detroit and income eligibility requirements would be expanded to include individuals and families making 200% of the poverty level. This means that a family of four earning a combined $52,400 per year, for example, would be eligible for WRAP support.


 

 

 

   
 
 

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