Mapping the crisis: how water shutoffs are devastating Detroit

A group of researchers says data shows black communities have a harsher policy when it comes to water shutoffs.

Between water shut-offs and the foreclosure crisis, thousands of Detroiters are struggling to stay in their homes. A group of researchers are trying to take a closer look at the devastating problems.

A coalition of activists, academics, and researchers spent 18 months studying data from Detroit. They say their research "seems" to show a connection between water shut off's and homes taken in foreclosure in strategic parts of Detroit. 

Wayne State Professor Emeritus Gloria House stopped short of saying it was intentional but said when you look at the maps, you can see where the water shut offs take place.

"People can look at these maps and apply their own analysis. i certainly think it isn't just coincidental or random," House said.

The group calls themselves We The People of Detroit Community Research Collective and their study is entitled-Mapping The Water Crisis, The Dismantling Of African-American Neighborhoods In Detroit, Volume One.
"Here in Detroit we're in a situation where many are unemployed, many are old and unemployed and have many reasons why they're struggling with their water bills," House said.

Some communities are not allowed to shut off water to residents. Detroit isn't one of those and for the researchers, that seems to suggest that more water shut offs occurred in African-American communities than in white communities.

"What we found is that ,quite often, where concentrations of black commnites are, those communities have the harshest policies," U of D Mercy Adjunct Professor Emily Kutil said

It's those policies that this group wants to change. Kutil couldn't explain why Detroit would be so harsh on its own residents and insists that what they need to find answers to.

There's been no official response from Detroit's water department. But the group seems to want to work with the authorities.

"We are happy to offer this info to our community and hopefully they'll some decisions about what they think is going on," House said.

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