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City, State Offer Detroit Residents Water Assistance During Coronavirus Scare

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

Washing your hands is a recommended safeguard against coronavirus, so city and state authorities are offering Detroit residents help with water bills to allow that.

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Updated, 6:38 pm, March 13: This article involves an ongoing situation. Additional details on the status of the program have been added.

Thousands of Detroit residents facing water shutoffs will get assistance – at least while the spread of coronavirus, and the related illness COVID-19, is a concern. 

You can avoid your water shut off by paying $25 and we will keep your rates at $25 a month as long as COVID-19 remains a health threat in this community.” - Mayor Mike Duggan

Residents who have had their water shutoff, or have received notice of a pending shutoff, can call 313-386-9727 to enroll in a $25 a month program. City and State officials say they want to make sure residents have access to clean running water so they can wash their hands. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says making it possible for all residents to keep water service – or get it back – will be key to controlling the spread of the disease.

You can avoid your water shut off by paying $25 and we will keep your rates at $25 a month as long as COVID-19 remains a health threat in this community,” said Duggan.

Residents who have had their water shutoff, or have received notice of a pending shutoff, can call 313-386-9727 to enroll in a $25 a month program.

Thousands of people made phone calls to Detroit’s water department when the program was first announced. But because of technical issues and inadequate staffing, a lot of those calls were dropped or never answered. 

Water department director Gary Brown says the city is fixing those problems.

Right now, it’s all hands on deck to turn the water on as many homes as possible so that everyone can wash their hands during this emergency,” says Brown.

Brown says the department is staffing more phone operators and plumbers to make repairs on people’s homes. He says another water assistance program called “WRAP” has been expended to allow more customers to qualify. 

Water officials will begin knocking on doors at 2,800 homes over the next few days. Duggan says the State will make the first month payment for those in need. 

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Eli Newman, Reporter/Producer

Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.

eli.newman@wdet.org Follow @other_eli

Sascha Raiyn, Education Reporter

Sascha Raiyn is Education Reporter at 101.9 WDET. She is a native Detroiter who grew up listening to news and music programming on Detroit Public Radio.

sraiyn@wdet.org Follow @raiyn

This post is a part of Coronavirus in Michigan.

101.9 WDET, Detroit’s NPR Station, is committed to providing accurate, up-to-date information on coronavirus, and it's related illness COVID-19, in Michigan. 

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