FOX 2 - Detroiters struggling to pay their water bills because of the pandemic -- now getting some much-needed help. The Great Lakes Water Authority expanded its Water Residential Assistance Program to reach more people.
“The things that normally happen (have been) exacerbated by Covid, so that is why it’s very exciting WHATS happening right now," said Michele Robinson.
WRAP is expanding who they are helping and for how long. The program helps people who are behind on their water bills get help with payments.
And now people who can’t pay on time because of issues related to COVID-19 can stay in the program through the end of the year. Having your water shut off can be devastating for families, especially those with children.
“They’re worried about bathing and washing dishes and cooking. So being able to meet some of those basic needs you can’t meet if you’re water is shut off," said Robinson, Wayne Metro Community Action Agency.
Anyone in the program can have a home audit of their water system and qualify to get some minor plumbing repairs as well. And now for the first time, renters will have access to this perk as well. So far, well over half of participating households end up getting some plumbing help.
The program is funded by the Great Lakes Water Authority and the changes they’ve just approved, could impact thousands of people - struggling even more than before the pandemic hit. And it’s not just water, but other things people may need help with.
“Many of our clients take advantage of our multiple services," said Robinson.
Households previously had to be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, but that’s now increased to 200 percent meaning households with higher income qualify. Right now more than 26,000 households are enrolled, that number is expected to grow.
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“So that’s opened up access for a number of residents to also receive program assistance," Robinson said.