U.N - Detroit violating human rights

Is Detriot violating human rights by shutting off water to the poor?

  • Yes

    Votes: 27 61.4%
  • No

    Votes: 8 18.2%
  • Undecided

    Votes: 5 11.4%
  • They should have paid, their problem.

    Votes: 4 9.1%

  • Total voters
    44

G51989

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2023988561_detroitwaterxml.html

DETROIT — It has been six weeks since the city turned off Nicole Hill’s water.

Dirty dishes are piled in the sink of her crowded kitchen, where the yellow-and-green linoleum floor is soiled and sticky. A small garbage can is filled with water from a neighbor, while a bigger one sits outside, where she hopes it will collect some rain. She’s developed an intricate recycling system of washing the dishes, cleaning the floor and flushing the toilet with the same water.

“It’s frightening, because you think this is something that only happens somewhere like Africa,” said Hill, a single mother who is studying homeland security at a local college. “But now I know what they’re going through — when I get somewhere there’s a water faucet, I drink until my stomach hurts.”

Hill is one of thousands of residents in Detroit who have seen their water and sewer services turned off as part of a crackdown on customers who are behind on their bills. In April, the city set a target of cutting service to 3,000 customers a week who were more than $150 behind on their bills. In May, the water department sent out 46,000 warnings and cut off service to 4,531.

The city says that cutting off water is the only way to get people to pay their bills as Detroit tries to emerge from bankruptcy — the utility is currently owed $90 million from customers, and nearly half the city’s 300,000 or so accounts are past due.

But cutting off water to people already living in poverty has come under criticism from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose experts said Detroit is violating international standards by cutting off access to water.

“When there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections,” Catarina de Albuquerque, the office’s expert on the human right to water and sanitation, said in the recent communiqué.

“Are we the kind of people that resort to shutting water off when there are disabled people and seniors?” said Maureen Taylor, chairwoman of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. “We live near the Great Lakes, we have the greatest source of fresh water on Earth, and we still can’t get water here.”

Utility affordability

The issue of utility affordability is acute in Detroit, with its high proportion of low-income residents and an infrastructure whose costs were once borne by a much larger population.

The price of water and sewer services nationwide has far outpaced other utilities and the rate of inflation, according to Jan Beecher, with the Institute of Public Utilities at Michigan State University. The reason is that much of the nation is in a construction and renovation cycle, with cities spending billions on renovations after long neglecting them.

Whereas federal programs have been developed to help people pay for the rising cost of fuel and electricity, no such program exists for water, Beecher said.

“We’ve never really developed a clear public policy toward universal service and water,” Beecher said. “International organizations are concerned with a basic level of service, but with water, the tricky thing is that drinking water would fall into that, but watering the lawn would not be considered a basic human right.”

“The real issue is the obligation of the utility to bill affordably so that people will be able to avoid disconnections of service,” said Roger Colton, a consultant with Fisher Sheehan and Colton who specializes in the economics of utilities. “That’s the issue that is quickly coming to the forefront.”

The last time Detroit began shutting off water for unpaid bills a decade ago, Colton worked with the Michigan Poverty Law Program to develop a program that would help the water department collect money while still keeping water affordable.

He found that whereas the federal Environmental Protection Agency recommends families spend no more than 2.5 percent of their pretax income on water and sewer service, some Detroit residents were paying more than 20 percent.

Colton argues that cities won’t get the money they want by simply shutting off services. Instead, he says, utilities should require residents to pay a percentage of their income to the water department for service.

“If you give someone a more affordable bill, you end up collecting more of the bills,” he said.

Taking Colton’s advice into account, Detroit’s water department implemented a program that allowed residents to start making payments on their bills even if they were thousands of dollars behind.

But that program was cut during the city’s bankruptcy, said Lorray Brown, with the Michigan Poverty Law Program. The city, still in bankruptcy, is probably not in a position to pay for a similar program now, she said.

Frustrated residents

A line of angry customers waited June 26 outside a customer-service office for the water and sewer department. “Water is a life utility. You can do without lights and gas. But how are you going to do without water?” said Marcus McMiller, who was waiting in line with dozens of others.

McMiller said he thought he was current on his bill, but when he called the city, he was told that his house was listed as unoccupied. He was hoping to get his water service resumed by paying the $312 he was told he owed.

Nicole Hill said she was told she owed $5,754, which she finds impossible to believe. She moved into her apartment five years ago and right away the water bills seemed strange — $200 a month or more. When she called the water department to have it check, she didn’t get anywhere, she said.

For the last two years, she has paid $2,800 to try to get caught up, but the utility wants her to pay $1,700 more before she can even get on a payment plan — an amount she doesn’t have.

Now her car has broken down, and she has to depend on friends for rides to get water. Her three children are staying with friends because she fears that authorities will take them away if they find they are living in a home without running water.

Her son said he was worried because he had never seen her cry before — until lately. “I literally feel like I’m going back to ‘Little House on the Prairie’ days,” Hill said, standing in her kitchen, where a pan sat dirty on the stove.

She’s called dozens of service groups looking for help, and has been approached about entering into a class-action lawsuit against the city for the water shut-offs.

Hill said she doesn’t care about a settlement from the city, or even an apology. All she wants, she said, is to be able to turn on her tap and take a long, cold drink.
Now, I understand the city needs money, but shutting off water to very poor, disabled and fixed income seniors is INSANE.

Cutting off water and sewage is the PERFECT way to kill people, spread illness and cause human waste to pile up everywhere, and cause outbreaks of serious illness.


Is it a violation of human rights and a humanitarian crisis in the making? You bet it is.

The fact they are shutting off water and sewage to people on payment plans actually making the payments as best they can is even more insane.

Reminds me of this.



Go America.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,409
I have no words.


A news investigation by WDIV-TV revealed that Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, owed $82,255 as of April. Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play, owed more than $55,000. City-owned golf courses owed more than $400,000. As of July 2, none had paid. Mr. Latimer said the Department of Water and Sewerage would post notice, giving these commercial customers 10 days to pay before cutting service. But he did not say when.

And in the meantime the city is going after any customers who are more than 60 days late and owe at least $150.
http://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/9781/nyt_detroit_shuts_off_water_for_poor_homeowners_but_lets_big_customers_slide
 

VulchR

macrumors 68020
Jun 8, 2009
2,329
10,254
Scotland
Appalling - surely there are other ways to collect unpaid bills. What about kids who live in homes that have been cut off from water, for they owe nothing?

I wonder if this is simply a manoeuvre to depopulate the city of poor people.
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA


The fact is, things like stadiums are owned by the super rich.

And they can't afford water bills, its unfair to them! They need to eat to!

Poor people? They don't need water, their poor! Ahahaha!

/Murica logic

----------

Appalling - surely there are other ways to collect unpaid bills. What about kids who live in homes that have been cut off from water, for they owe nothing?

I wonder if this is simply a manoeuvre to depopulate the city of poor people.
I think it is a move to depopulate the city, and I think its a move in general that shows America is on the decline.

Seniors, poor, disabled people and kids don't need water, the banksters must be paid.
 

iBlazed

macrumors 68000
Feb 27, 2014
1,593
1,224
New Jersey, United States
Not like Detroit has a million other things to be embarrassed about, just add this on top of the pile of crap their city already is. This city is nothing to be proud of.
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Jan 4, 2002
21,542
7,802
CT
Don't pay your bills and your service get cut off. That's how that works.
So how is Detroit still around, they went bankrupt. The whole city should get cut off by your logic.

Maybe the big 3 autos should flip the bill as they are the ones that ruined the city.
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
Unless you're a rich white stadium or golf course owner.

Your utter contempt for people is sickening.
These people chose not to pay their water bills. If I don't pay my electric bill should I expect the service to stay on? You don't pay your utility bills, they get cut off. That is how it works.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,987
These people chose not to pay their water bills. If I don't pay my electric bill should I expect the service to stay on? You don't pay your utility bills, they get cut off. That is how it works.
Jeeze man, we get it, you don't care about people, humanity, or simple human dignity. The question is why do you continue to flaunt this so openly?:rolleyes:
 

Technarchy

macrumors 604
May 21, 2012
6,747
4,885
Who cares which letter was next to the politician's name?
It's a point of significance when talking about the woes of Detroit, but it has nothing to do with turning off the water as an act of enforcement.

Whoever proposed that should be tarred and feathered.
 

Michael Goff

Suspended
Jul 5, 2012
13,262
7,298
It's a point of significance when talking about the woes of Detroit, but it has nothing to do with turning off the water as an act of enforcement.

Whoever proposed that should be tarred and feathered.
Well, really, I'd say that conservative and liberal are much more important when talking about the woes of the city overall, as well as the fact that they were abandoned by the rest of the country.

You are right about it not being important to this particular issue, shutting stuff off that is.
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
Look these people chose no to pay their water bills. Why? Because the water department wasn't turning people off. They pay their electric bills. Now, they see what happens when you do not pay your bill, the water gets cut off. Tell me why the water department should continue to provide water if the residents choose not to pay the bill?
 

LIVEFRMNYC

macrumors 604
Oct 27, 2009
7,433
8,605
Look these people chose no to pay their water bills. Why? Because the water department wasn't turning people off. They pay their electric bills. Now, they see what happens when you do not pay your bill, the water gets cut off. Tell me why the water department should continue to provide water if the residents choose not to pay the bill?
Your right .... And by your logic, since the people pay taxes ..... they should have the right to all the water via fire hydrants and other city outlets. Don't worry, it's paid for. :rolleyes:
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
Your right .... And by your logic, since the people pay taxes ..... they should have the right to all the water via fire hydrants and other city outlets. Don't worry, it's paid for. :rolleyes:
So what happens when no one pays a water bill?

My electricity, water, sewer, trash pick up, cable and high speed internet are all provided by the City of Monroe Utilities which is a city owned utility. What happens if I opt to no longer pay them? I still pay taxes.
 

impulse462

macrumors 68000
Jun 3, 2009
1,697
2,203
Remind me how long Detroit has been run by Democrats? How's that working out for you?
Yes we've had rampant corruption, especially from my boy Kwame. Still this callous attitude you have toward people of Detroit is irritating (and probably because you think the region is full of democrats).
 

impulse462

macrumors 68000
Jun 3, 2009
1,697
2,203
They didn't pay their water bills, what did they think would happen?
It's not as black and white as you make it out to be. They can't afford to pay them, but you can't just let the city "fail" if you want to keep up Americas image of being #1.

If your city was in the same situation, I'd bet you'd be singing a whole different song.
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
It's not as black and white as you make it out to be. They can't afford to pay them, but you can't just let the city "fail" if you want to keep up Americas image of being #1.

If your city was in the same situation, I'd bet you'd be singing a whole different song.
They can't afford to pay them? How much is the average water bill? Really??? They chose not to pay them because no one was getting cut off but now they are.