Detroit Today

New Fund Created To Help Detroiters Pay Their Water Bills

August 11, 2014





While many DWSD customers have the financial ability to make their monthly water payments, other customers need a helping hand. United Way for Southeastern Michigan and the City of Detroit have joined forces to establish a single water support fund to help those customers who want to pay their bills.

The Detroit Water Fund will assist water customers who owe up to $1,000 and who qualify for DTE's Low Income Self-Sufficiency Plan . The fund will also seek donations frim the public.

Alexis Wiley, Chief of Staff for Detroit Mayor MMike Duggan and Kristen Holt, Chief Operating Officer for The United Way for Southeast Michigan worked with Community Partners and the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to develop a ten-point plan to deal with delinquent water customers. They join Detroit Today to discuss how the plann will work moving forward.

DWSD 10-point Plan

1. Waive Turn-On Fees and Late Payment Penalties. During the moratorium, which ends August 25th, DWSD will waive turn-on fees for customers whose water had been shut off, as well as all late payment penalties.

2. Cut red tape. To simplify getting into a payment plan, customers only need to present a valid state ID. Once a payment is made, service will be restored within 48 hours.

3. Extend hours at DWSD Customer Care Centers. The DWSD has expanded hours at all of its Customer Care Centers, from 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Monday - Friday (previously 8:30AM – 5:30 PM) and 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM on weekends (previously 9AM – Noon) to make sure customer service agents are available at all times. The DWSD has also added staff to reduce wait times. 4. Increase staffing at the DWSD Call Center and extend hours.

DWSD has also expanded hours at its Call Center to 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM daily (previously 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM) and 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM on weekends (weekend hours for the Call Center are new). Starting August 18th, the Call Center will have 50 percent more staff and new phone technology to better serve customers.

5. Cobo Water Fair August 23rd. A Water Affordability Fair will be held at Cobo Center Saturday August 23rd to give customers one last opportunity to connect with all of the DWSD and community resources available to them before the moratorium ends August 25th.

6. Improve notification for customers in danger of shut-off. The DWSD is expanding its efforts to communicate with customers who are late on their payments or may be facing shut-off. Bills will more clearly explain their status and assistance information will be included with the bill. Workers also will hand-deliver notices to all homes in shut-off status one week before their scheduled shut-off to give them time to enter into a payment plan.

7. Implement an Affordable Payment Plan. Any resident with a delinquent account can enter into a 24-month “10/30/50” payment plan by coming to their local DWSD Customer Care Center, showing a valid state ID and paying down only 10 percent of their past-due balance. (The previous down payment requirement was 30 percent of the past-due balance.) If a customer misses a payment, they can reapply for the program by putting down 30 percent of their past-due balance. A second missed payment will require a 50 percent down payment of their past-due amount. Any customer who misses a third payment will no longer be eligible for the payment plan. 8. Provide financial assistance for low-income Detroit customers.

Starting August 11th DWSD Customer Care Centers will begin processing applications for the Detroit Water Fund. By paying down only 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. DWSD has partnered with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, which will prequalify residents. To be eligible for Detroit Water Fund assistance, customers must be Detroit residents who:

· Have an outstanding balance between $300 and $1000; AND · Maintain Average Water Usage for their household size; AND · Are either enrolled in DTE’s Low Income Self-Sufficiency Plan (LSP); OR, · Have income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level (for example, a family of 4 must have an annual income below $35,775).

This funding is available on a first come first served basis and is subject to availability.

9. Build Neighborhood Partnerships. DWSD customers are not alone. We’ve established a support network to assist individuals who may not qualify for some of the DWSD assistance programs. Our partners include United Way 211, THAW, WAVE and Wayne Metro.

10. Provide a clear way to give. Many people have offered to help Detroiters who are struggling to pay their water bills. There are several ways to donate to the Detroit Water Fund: online, by text message, by check or by phone. Details are available at www.DetroitWaterFund.org.

Where to reach customer assistance:

All DWSD Customer Care Centers are now open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and all centers have new Saturday hours from 8AM to 3PM. Locations are: · Downtown Center, 735 Randolph · Eastside Center, 13303 E. McNichols (West of Gratiot) · Westside Center, 15600 Grand River (West of Greenfield)

The DWSD Customer Care Call Center is now open from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM weekdays and also has added the same Saturday hours as the walk-in centers of 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM. The Call Center number is: (313) 267-8000.