Jun 22, 2014

WaterWars In #Detroit: Water For Corporations, Not For People | #water denied to families

Popular Resistance - In the spring, Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr ordered water shutoffs for 150,000 Detroit residents late on their bills. Orr is an unelected bureaucrat accountable only to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who appointed Orr and several other "emergency managers" in largely poor, black communities like Detroit, Benton Harbor, Flint, and Highland Park, to make all financial decisions on behalf of local elected governments.

Detroit citizens have been protesting the decision on the basis that water is a human right that cannot be denied to families who need it for cooking, bathing and flushing toilets. Many residents facing water shutoffs are currently on monthly payment plans with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, paying upwards of $160 per month as water rates continue to rise, and were given no prior notice that their water was about to be cut off. Last week, the Detroit City Council held a public hearing to discuss a proposed 4 percent hike in water rates.

As the Michigan Citizen reported, residents with delinquent water bills are losing their water while prominent Detroit corporations with much larger delinquent water bills are being left alone. The Palmer Park Golf Club owes $200,000. Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, owes DWSD $80,000. Ford Field owes $55,000. Kevyn Orr is arguing that the shutoffs are necessary to pay for the DWSD infrastructure – yet when Detroit raised $1 billion in bonds to pay for new infrastructure, $537 million of it went to banks like JPMorgan Chase, UBS and Morgan Stanley to pay off interest instead.

Community activists are placing blame on the structural, institutionalized poverty in Detroit that forces the people to foot the bill for corporate mismanagement. Detroit's bankruptcy and urban blight is a direct result of the housing bubble that burst, putting over 60,000 homes in foreclosure and rendering thousands of families homeless.

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