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Detroit Water Shutoffs: A Human Rights Crisis Turning to Tragedy
Non-Profit Quarterly ^ | July 7, 2014 | Rick Cohen

Posted on 07/07/2014 9:14:03 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Why spend so much time commenting on Detroit? Because the city of more than 700,000 people is bankrupt, turning the water off on over one hundred thousand water customers, and now axing the contracts of nonprofit human service groups that have been providing safety net services for Detroit’s legions of poor people residing in devastated neighborhoods. Is there any hope?

Inell Byrd, a 41-year-old home health aide still living in Detroit’s North End, told New York Times writer James Eligon, “I know the city is coming back.” That was the concluding sentence of Eligon’s moving portrait of residents of the North End, east of the Woodward Corridor of Detroit, and how they are holding on as they watch their city fall apart beneath them. Even in Ms. Byrd’s case, the story is heart-wrenching. Working two jobs to take care of her retired husband, who cannot work due to having suffered two strokes, Ms. Byrd owes $4,500 in back taxes. She has contemplated selling her home, but she pulled the house off the market after getting mostly lowball offers from white buyers.

Eligon also writes about Banika Jones, a 34-year-old woman living in the North End. After overcoming suspicions of the white social activists coming into her neighborhood, she now volunteers with one of the white-led groups, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. Almost in passing, Eligon notes that Jones lives in a home with no electricity and no running water because, he says, she cannot afford to pay for utilities.

Despite the concerns that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department was shutting off the water on poor people in violation of international human rights covenants, WDIV (Channel 4 in Detroit) reported over the weekend that the Water Department is going door-by-door, block-by-block shutting off this basic service on residents who are delinquent in their water payments—some 1,500 to 2,000 customers a week, according to WDIV. The city says that residents owe over $100 million in unpaid bills. Half of the city’s water customers owe more than $150, and the average unpaid water bill is $560.

Across the border, the view of the Hamilton Spectator is that Detroit is becoming like a “pioneer town,” with no water services for increasing numbers of hard-pressed residents. Although Nonprofit Quarterly was all over this story early on, commenting on the efforts of Detroit-area advocacy groups such as the People’s Water Coalition as well as Congressman John Conyers to bring this issue to the attention of Congress, the White House, and even the United Nations, the uptake by mainstream network and cable national TV news organizations has been slow. Finally, NBC Nightly News picked up the story just recently.

Something isn’t connecting on this story. Comments abound in various places that Detroiters who are behind on their water bills are getting what they deserve, that it’s time for Detroit to start getting people to pay their water bills, electricity bills, and property taxes. Somehow, the notion that water service is not a discretionary luxury purchase isn’t getting through.

Unless plans change, on Monday morning, the Detroit Water Brigade and Congressman Conyers plan to hold a press conference announcing their plan to “launch a volunteer drive to deliver immediate relief to thousands of families affected by water shutoffs and advocate for an immediate moratorium on shutoffs and a Water Affordability Plan for all residents.” The moratorium is obviously important, but volunteer relief in a city that is already suffering from a dearth of services of all sorts isn’t much of a response. The moratorium should be accompanied by state and federal intervention to rectify the situation of residents getting unanticipated delinquency bills, facing higher than expected bills that are all-but-assuredly due to leaking water pipes, and being deprived of a requisite element of civilized society.

We suspect that Congressman Conyers is not going to pin his hopes on volunteers accompanied by the expectation that Detroit Water will have an epiphany of human concern. Governmental action—other than the turn-offs by the Detroit Water Department—is needed now before a human rights crisis becomes a human rights tragedy


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; Local News; Politics
KEYWORDS: detroit; michigan; utilities; water
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So now the Free $#*+ Army wants their utilities to be gratis? Are we buying them cars yet?
1 posted on 07/07/2014 9:14:03 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Would like to know why the water is so expensive in Detroit compared to other cities.

Bloated bureaucracy?


2 posted on 07/07/2014 9:16:06 PM PDT by Tea Party Terrorist (Why work for a living when you can vote for a living?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I had my water cut off when I was in college. No one seemed to care.

I survived. They will too. Pay your bill or live without it.


3 posted on 07/07/2014 9:17:14 PM PDT by boycott
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To: Tea Party Terrorist

But is it?


4 posted on 07/07/2014 9:20:41 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

As long as there are no white farmers.


5 posted on 07/07/2014 9:23:17 PM PDT by rawcatslyentist (Jeremiah 50:32 "The arrogant one will stumble and fall ; / ?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

When did municipal water become free? Am I missing something?


6 posted on 07/07/2014 9:23:17 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
but she pulled the house off the market after getting mostly lowball offers from white buyers.

She didn't want to sell to a white person??

7 posted on 07/07/2014 9:24:04 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

From what I have read in recent weeks, yes, and by quite a bit too.


8 posted on 07/07/2014 9:25:14 PM PDT by Tea Party Terrorist (Why work for a living when you can vote for a living?)
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To: GeronL

Does she not realize that the real estate market there is worse than Nagasaki two days after the bomb was dropped?


9 posted on 07/07/2014 9:25:20 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Somehow, the notion that water service is not a discretionary luxury purchase isn’t getting through.

What a freaking joke

10 posted on 07/07/2014 9:25:39 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: GeronL

It’s definitely racist to not want to sell to whites. She’s holding out for Blacks to make low ball offers, then she’ll sell.


11 posted on 07/07/2014 9:27:22 PM PDT by House Atreides (ANOTHER CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN FOR CHILDERS 2014 .... Don't reward bad GOPe behavior.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

All of this could have been avoided if only the residents of Detroit had had the forethought to elect progressive Democrats to office, instead of the greedy, Republicans that they did elect all these years. Then it would have been unicorns and rainbows.

Wait ... who are you saying was elected?


12 posted on 07/07/2014 9:28:23 PM PDT by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
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To: Tea Party Terrorist

This isn’t even under “Opinion” for crying out loud


13 posted on 07/07/2014 9:29:00 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: GeronL

The last thing any distressed place needs is for economically savvy white people to move in.


14 posted on 07/07/2014 9:30:05 PM PDT by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
What are you talking about? Detroit is a boomtown.

So says Brian Williams anyway. Here see for yourself....


NBC News Jan. 6, 2013: Detroit Is Coming Back

15 posted on 07/07/2014 9:33:20 PM PDT by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Texas Eagle)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Same guy wrote this:

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/24466-bankrupt-detroit-to-hundreds-of-nonprofit-vendors-contracts-may-be-cancelled.html


16 posted on 07/07/2014 9:36:34 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: coloradan
The last thing any distressed place needs is for economically savvy white people to move in.

The best thing poor detroit people can do is to buy a house, fix it up, and sell it to white people. Then move down a block, by another cheap house, fix it up, and sell it to another white person. After a while, take the profits and run.

It doesn't take genious level intelligence to fix up a house, just some tools and basic knowledge. Both of those can be pooled by the people already there. Team up, buy some tools, get to work.

Detroit: City on the move

17 posted on 07/07/2014 9:39:33 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: coloradan

Now that I figured out how to comment, I want to play with them a bit.


18 posted on 07/07/2014 9:40:04 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: coloradan

Yet another article crying about the city not paying money into the Non-profits organizations

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/philanthropy/24460-the-foundation-tally-of-detroit-s-unprecedented-grand-bargain.html


19 posted on 07/07/2014 9:41:44 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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read that article

It is pretty amazing the coziness between these foundations and state and local government.


20 posted on 07/07/2014 9:44:15 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: GeronL
it's not just water... it's water, water treatment and SEWER!!! and the sewage treatment is prolly the most expensive part
21 posted on 07/07/2014 9:46:03 PM PDT by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -vvv- NO Pity for the LAZY - 86-44)
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To: coloradan

lol


22 posted on 07/07/2014 9:48:23 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

But leftists love Third World ideas - why aren’t the liberal elites flocking in?


23 posted on 07/07/2014 9:55:22 PM PDT by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

They seem to be able to pay for anything else they want, just not things they need, like water & electricity. They think that should be given to them.


24 posted on 07/07/2014 10:09:36 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: kcvl

Amazingly enough my comments on 3 different stories at the site were approved.

My beeber is stuned.


25 posted on 07/07/2014 10:12:33 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“I feel like the house is falling apart,” said Ms. Byrd, despairing this spring as she tried to scrounge up $4,500 in overdue taxes to keep the city from taking her family’s home and having it become another abandoned property.

Like so many others, the Byrds are barely hanging on. Ms. Byrd works two jobs in elder care, sometimes in 12-hour shifts, and her husband, lives on a police pension that remains subject to the city’s bankruptcy negotiations.

Having hit some bad breaks and mismanaged their household budget over the years, the Byrds saw their debts become insurmountable. At one point last year, they fell about $17,000 behind on property taxes and about $60,000 behind in utility, medical and car bills. That forced Ms. Byrd into bankruptcy.*

******

But her kids are still having babies they obviously can’t afford

https://nytsyn-production.s3.amazonaws.com/photos/0116/2650/1162650_525_350_w.jpg

Inell Byrd, just home from her job as a health aide, with her eight-month-old granddaughter Cailey, in Detroit’s North End neighborhood, June 28, 2014.


26 posted on 07/07/2014 10:16:03 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Derlena Hart and her nine-year-old son Christopher Johnson in the kitchen in Detroit's North End neighborhood, June 28, 2014.

******

Still has a cellphone in her pocket with her roof falling in.

27 posted on 07/07/2014 10:18:39 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: kcvl

priorities man!!

Besides, it ain’t her fault the section-8 landlord don’t come and fix the ceiling...


28 posted on 07/07/2014 10:21:41 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Inell Byrd in her sun room, with its damaged ceiling, in Detroit, June 28, 2014.

*****

Detroit doesn't have any men who can get off their *ss and fix a roof?!

I worked all week too, over 40 hrs but still found time this weekend to spend 14 hrs working in my yard. And I loved every minute of it including my job. I guess the difference is I like to work.

29 posted on 07/07/2014 10:22:27 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: kcvl
At one point last year, they fell about $17,000 behind on property taxes and about $60,000 behind in utility, medical and car bills.

How is that possible? If I don't pay the light bill for 2 months, they'll turn off the power.

30 posted on 07/07/2014 10:22:48 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: GeronL

Exactly!

I bet they have a big screen television and video games though.


31 posted on 07/07/2014 10:24:45 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: kcvl

She still has her cell phone and it looks to be a smart phone which we all know do not come cheap.


32 posted on 07/07/2014 10:32:17 PM PDT by BBell (The Blue Dog is Stupid)
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To: boycott
Pay your bill or live without it.

LOL....You are sooo funny!!!sarc

33 posted on 07/07/2014 10:34:07 PM PDT by BBell (The Blue Dog is Stupid)
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To: BBell

ObamaPhones don’t cover smartphones these days?

You can get a wireless plan for $45 or $50 a month these days from companies like Cricket, and others and T-Mobile’s Brightsource.


34 posted on 07/07/2014 10:35:15 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Don’t most real Africans walk miles each day to get water?


35 posted on 07/07/2014 10:39:07 PM PDT by Paladin2
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To: Paladin2

I don’t know about “most” but many do.


36 posted on 07/07/2014 10:39:59 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Its the white mans fault if you read the article....


37 posted on 07/07/2014 10:43:52 PM PDT by KingNo155
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
but she pulled the house off the market after getting mostly lowball offers from white buyers.

Eligon also writes about Banika Jones, a 34-year-old woman living in the North End. After overcoming suspicions of the white social activists coming into her neighborhood,

Apparently these einsteins think money has a color other than green. Getting what they voted for since Coleman Young days...

38 posted on 07/07/2014 10:44:16 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“Human rights”????

What about the rights of the people who provide the water? The pipe layers and maintainers, the workers at the purification plant, the reservoir workers, clerical workers, etc etc. They all have a right to be paid. If you don’t pay your bill then they can’t be paid.

Pay your bill, get your water, stfu.


39 posted on 07/07/2014 10:51:35 PM PDT by Ray76 (True change requires true change - A Second Party ...or else it's more of the same...)
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To: hinckley buzzard

Day-Twaa used to have a block bustin’ operation many decades ago.


40 posted on 07/07/2014 10:52:35 PM PDT by Paladin2
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To: kcvl

You think that wrist can fix a ceiling?


41 posted on 07/07/2014 10:54:10 PM PDT by Ray76 (True change requires true change - A Second Party ...or else it's more of the same...)
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To: Vince Ferrer

that requires work.... 2 signs a person is afraid of work ... 1.) hand out 2.)hands in pockets


42 posted on 07/07/2014 10:54:25 PM PDT by KingNo155
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To: Chode
"the sewage treatment is prolly the most expensive part "

Howz that drug amelioration workin' out?

43 posted on 07/07/2014 10:55:15 PM PDT by Paladin2
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To: GeronL

NON PROFIT is just code word for spending the taxes you pay and having nothing to show for it!


44 posted on 07/07/2014 11:02:59 PM PDT by KingNo155
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To: Paladin2
Must have been a while back, when they had blocks worth busting.
45 posted on 07/07/2014 11:07:58 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: boycott

“Pay your bill or live without it.”

I’m buying a house where the water was shut off. They simply filled the toilets with excrement. There’s one pile on the floor.

Two landlords I’ve spoken to have stories of renters that they’re trying to evict using one room as a toilet.


46 posted on 07/08/2014 2:52:31 AM PDT by Gen.Blather
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To: Gen.Blather

I have seen the same type of behavior on Indian reservations.

Where they fill the basement with garbage starting by throwing it down the steps until that is filled then by cutting holes in the floor.

Then when the basement is full the start on any spare room then when they have no room. They complain the house is unlivable and get the tribe to build them a new one.


47 posted on 07/08/2014 4:16:28 AM PDT by riverrunner
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To: Gen.Blather

Oh my ............


48 posted on 07/08/2014 5:11:22 AM PDT by boycott
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

If a person in Detroit turns on the faucet and water comes out and they don’t pay a water bill, that means someone else is paying their water bill.


49 posted on 07/08/2014 6:07:39 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: GeronL
Somehow, the notion that water service is not a discretionary luxury purchase isn’t getting through.

Neither is the very large flat screen TV and Xbox in the home of one of the "protestors".

Give me a break.

50 posted on 07/08/2014 7:47:36 AM PDT by jimt (Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.)
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