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New program to bring immediate relief to low-income families for high water bills

A new program is aiming at helping low-income families pay their water bills
New program to bring immediate relief to low-income families for high water bills
New program to bring immediate relief to low-income families for high water bills(Michael Nafso/WJRT)
Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 9:16 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - A new program is aiming at helping low-income families pay their water bills.

It’s all part of the recent coronavirus relief package that remains up in the air. It’s one that could largely could impact those living right here in Flint.

”Older industrial cities with a lot of population loss have water rates that are really high,” Congressman Dan Kildee said of Michigan’s Fifth District.

In Flint, that number is nearly twice the national average, nearly $1,000 per year for water service. That statistic from a non-profit called, “Food & Water Watch” based out of Washington D.C.

“For Flint, it’s particularly painful when you think about the fact that people still don’t trust the water. The water crisis is not over, and we still have these really high water rates,” Kildee said.

However, if that number is brought down to just the average...

“That can save Flint families literally hundreds of dollars every year, and for people who are living in poverty, that’s significant,” Kildee said.

That’s what Kildee is trying to do, securing a part of the federal coronavirus relief package to help cities like Flint.

“This program, $638 million distributed to the states, will provide direct relief to low-income people with really high water rates,” Kildee said.

It comes at a time where people are struggling to pay for water, an essential part of fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re telling people to continually wash their hands and use their water, so this to me felt like an absolute necessity. It’s been something we’ve been working on for a long time, but especially in the era of COVID, it’s really important,” Kildee said.

Kildee says he hopes it becomes a longer-term commitment, like how there are programs helping people pay their utility bills like heating, gas, and electric.

He wants the same sort of thing for water and sewer, but there’s a larger piece of hope to it.

“To invest in America’s infrastructure, so that we cannot have these water systems that are required to charge such high rates in order to stay open. If we can modernize and right size the water and sewer system in Flint and lots of other older cities, we can bring the rates down without having to have this kind of support,” Kildee said.

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