Originally launched as the Detroit Water Project back in 2014, The Human Utility is a charity which allows people to help out those in need.
All families need access to clean water. It seems like such a basic human right. Unfortunately, it’s not only in the third world that this is an issue. Many American families are now finding themselves in a position where they are unable to keep up with water charges and fall behind in their bills.
The Human Utility not only provides assistance with financial ends, but also with the practical. They have partnered (and are constantly looking for) plumbers, legal professionals and other useful services. According to their website:
“Water companies are turning off the tap in cities across the U.S., forcing low-income families, seniors and single parents to live without basic necessities.
Families without water are forced to go elsewhere to take showers, clean dishes and get a drink.”
Detroit has been particularly badly hit by the new measures taken by water companies to shut off families who can’t stay on top of their bills. Low-income houses are most at risk.
Tiffani Bell is co-founder of the project, and in an interview with Fast Company, she said that “There’s some people who were living without water for a while,” adding “There’s a lady who wrote an email that hangs over my door who talks about how she and her son were very sick, and they had to live without running water in their house for six months until we helped them. They were doing things like trying to drink from their neighbor’s water hose. Now they don’t have to.”
The implications for non-payment of water bills in the USA is a lot more severe than might be initially imagined, as Bell explains. “You can lose your house over a water bill as well,” she says. “If you don’t pay it…they’ll essentially tack the bill onto your property taxes. So if you don’t pay the property taxes, you’ll lose the house in a tax sale.”
Through her work with the project, over 1,000 families have been directly assisted and have had the water turned back on and, with it, have been able to get back to life as normal.