Water shut-off notices go out in Detroit, 10 days given for assistance

 Residents in Detroit once again are getting hit with water shut-off warnings. 

As many as 25,000 people are behind on their bills and they have 10 days to sign up for city assistance or lost their service. 

"I haven't paid since May, so it's not that far behind," said resident Sabrina Liles.

Liles says she sees the shut-off notification as more of a scare tactic, but to avoid getting her water shut-off, she came to make a payment on her bill. 

"Just to stay on safe side," she said. "You come and do what you have to, to keep your utilities on."

Liles is just one of the thousands of residential water accounts city officials say will receive shut-off warnings regarding their delinquent accounts. 

These residents have 10 days to get assistance or face having their service shut-off.

"If you get a door hanger, you should go into payment center, you should get on the phone," said Alexis Wiley city of Detroit spokesperson. "If you can pay your bill in full, that's what you should do. But if you need a little help, learn about the payment plans, learn about the Detroit Water Fund."

But creating awareness is just part of the equation. The other part is taking action and signing up for payment plan.

"If you come in and sign up for program, you get two years to pay off the arrearage and we'll pay 50 percent every month," said Mayor Mike Duggan.

Jean Taylor got on a payment plan making her payments around $12 a month.

"I'm grateful for it," she said. "Me being on a low income, I can deal with it better."

As the notifications continue to go out, critics of payment option argue there's a better way.

"Rates are based on an amount that people can pay, the collection will be at higher rate," said Curt Guyette of the ACLU. "People will pay if they can afford it."

But Duggan cautions advocating for an affordability program.

"We've got 275,000 househusband in the city and people move everyday," he said. "How would you figure out the income in a household from one day to the next."
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