DETROIT (WJBK) - The City of Detroit already has a vacant home problem and they don't need another one. Yet that's exactly what they have after the city mistakenly flooded a woman's basement earlier this month. Now, they're trying to make that right.
Ebony Wysinger called the FOX 2 Problem Solvers on Monday and told her story. She had plans to move into the home and had just started the rehab process after a renter trashed it. On Nov. 2, her plumber put in new pipes. On Nov. 3, her neighbor saw a water worker outside the house, then he saw water coming from a faucet in the back. He shut it off and didn't see her until the 6th and told her what happened. She got inside the empty home and heard the rushing the water.
She says she called the water department and was told they had turned off her water for meter non-compliance. She told them, no, you actually turned my water on. Tired of getting the runaround, she called FOX 2 and we called the city. Now they're trying to make it right.
Gary Brown is the new head of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and he starts on January 1. He's already taking our calls.
The city says they don't have record of Ebony's water being turned on by mistake but they're working to make it right.
"We send out Buildings and Safety to do a complete inspection of the house; mechanical inspection, electrical inspection, plumbing inspection so that she knows exactly what needs to be taken care of to make the home safe," Brown said he also wants to get a new meter installed and his office is going to track her claim through the system. He also wants to see if she qualifies for any funding to make repairs.
"We want all the Detroiters we can get. We're trying to grow our population, we've got a vacant house and we want to make this right and fix it," Brown said.
Gary brown also using this opportunity to remind people to remind people who are having trouble paying bills to get on a payment plant and not to risk getting their water shut off.
"We have dollars that are available if you're struggling to pay your water bill," Brown said.
Brown say those who quality must be low income - 150% below the poverty level - but money is available for monthly bills and money you might owe. 41,000 people have entered into payment plans which is up from a year ago when Brown says only 900 people were in payment plans. With 40 percent of Detroiters below the poverty level, he knows the need is there and he says they can help.
"The water department can't take care of all the social ills of the city but we certainly can do our part to make sure that they have a bill that's affordable," Brown said.