$1 million grant to help those with overdue water bills - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

$1 million grant to help those with overdue water bills

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This week, hundreds of eligible Detroit residents could receive financial help in paying their water bills. The Detroit Residential Water Assistance Program (DRWAP) has close to $1 million in its coffers to help customers who are experiencing affordability problems.

DRWAP is sponsored by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). Funds are generated from voluntary contributions from Detroit retail customers.

Customers who qualify under DRWAP will receive up to $1,500 toward their water bill. However, all participants will be required to make some contribution toward their account. The objective of DRWAP is twofold: Provide needed assistance while giving the customer advice on proper budgeting and an opportunity to pay their bill in a timely manner.

"Here at DWSD, our goal is not to shut off water in homes but to keep water on," said Darryl Latimer, Deputy Director for DWSD. "We are willing to work with those who are having trouble paying their water bills and the DRWAP program is one of those avenues for assistance."

DRWAP is similar to a budget plan: The customer is responsible for paying a set amount toward their monthly bill and the DRWAP program pays the difference. Additionally, if the account is delinquent, the customer also is responsible for paying toward that amount. The DRWAP program will make a quarterly contribution toward the outstanding amount, as long as the customer meets their monthly responsibility for payment of the water and sewer bill. As long as the customer is in compliance with the program, DRWAP will pay the difference, which is up to $1,500 for the year.

Qualified applicants must be at or below 200 percent of Federal Government Poverty Levels; live in a single-family dwelling and be responsible for paying their water bill. Currently, the income of a family of four cannot exceed $47,700. The total amount of the applicant's bill cannot exceed $2,500.

In addition, customers need to be a Detroit resident and be in receipt of a shut off notice of their water service. The home also must have a new water meter (AMR Technology) installed. All shut-off action will be suspended pending acceptance into the DRWAP program. Eligible customers can also qualify based on their participation in public assistance programs such as food stamps, disability or Supplemental Security Income.

DRWAP will be administered by The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), which will screen for eligibility. THAW will forward the names of qualified applicants to DWSD, which will complete final payment arrangements.

Customers seeking assistance can call THAW at (877)-646-2831 for THAW locations and telephone access numbers. Customers also can contact DWSD customer service at (313) 267-8000 for more information.

For customers that don't meet the qualifications for DRWAP, there are other options. Customers can enter into the DWSD Budget Plan, which will spread their bills evenly over 12 months and there also is the Payment Plan Agreement, that can be tailored for the individual customer's needs. Currently, DWSD has enrolled more than 17,000 customers in payment plans

About the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
DWSD supplies high-quality drinking water to Detroit and 127 other communities in southeast Michigan. The Department provides wastewater services to Detroit and 76 other southeast Michigan communities.

DWSD has three customer service locations in Detroit. The locations are:

Downtown Customer Service Center - Water Board Building
735 Randolph Street, First Floor (enter off Bates Street)
Monday through Saturday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., (closed on Saturday from 12 to 12:30 p.m.)

Eastside Customer Service Center
13303 E. McNichols (1 1/2 blocks west of Gratiot)
Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Westside Customer Service Center
15600 Grand River (1 block west of Greenfield)
Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Customer Call Center
(313) 267-8000
Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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