Detroit Water and Sewerage Department 10-point Plan
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Water & Sewerage Director Sue F. McCormick, along with a team of community partners today announced a 10-point plan that would allow DWSD to collect on overdue water bills while making it easier for customers to make payments, enter into payment arrangements and access financial assistance.
On Monday, the Mayor and DWSD announced they were extending the moratorium on residential water shut offs through August 25th. The Mayor and Director McCormick felt the extension was necessary because it was clear their Detroit customers needed more time to understand the department’s policies and more ways to avoid shutoff.
Highlights of the plan include the waiving of turn on fees and late payment penalties through the end of the moratorium, a payment plan structure that requires only a valid ID to enter and increasing staffing at customer service and call centers. The plan also includes the establishment of a new assistance fund for low income families, called the Detroit Water Fund.
“It was clear by the turnout at our fair last weekend at our east side center that Detroiters want to stay on top of their bill. We just needed to give them a better process. Under this plan, anyone who wants to address their overdue balance will have every opportunity to do so,” Mayor Duggan said.
DWSD Director Sue McCormick said her department is committed to assisting Detroit residents so they can avoid being placed into a shut off status. She also said that this 10-point plan will benefit all Detroiters - those who pay every month and those who need to catch up.
“This plan provides great resources for those Detroiters who need some guidance and support in paying their bills,” she said. “As more Detroiters get current on their bills, that means there is less of a deficit for other Detroit residents to pick up in the form of added charges on their bill. It really benefits everyone.”
The city will host a Water Fair at Cobo Center from 9AM - 5PM on August 23rd, just before the moratorium on residential water shut offs ends on the 25th. McCormick said the fair will give Detroit customers one final opportunity to access all of the support they need in one location before water shut offs resume on August 26th.
DWSD 10-point Plan
1. Waive Turn-On Fees and Late Payment Penalties.
During the moratorium, which ends August 25th, DWSD will waive turn-on fees for customers whose water had been shut off, as well as all late payment penalties.
2. Cut red tape.
To simplify getting into a payment plan, customers only need to present a valid state ID. Once a payment is made, service will be restored within 48 hours.
3. Extend hours at DWSD Customer Care Centers.
The DWSD has expanded hours at all of its Customer Care Centers, from 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Monday - Friday (previously 8:30AM – 5:30 PM) and 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM on weekends (previously 9AM – Noon) to make sure customer service agents are available at all times. The DWSD has also added staff to reduce wait times.
4. Increase staffing at the DWSD Call Center and extend hours.
DWSD has also expanded hours at its Call Center to 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM daily (previously 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM) and 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM on weekends (weekend hours for the Call Center are new). Starting August 18th, the Call Center will have 50 percent more staff and new phone technology to better serve customers.
5. Cobo Water Fair August 23rd.
A Water Affordability Fair will be held at Cobo Center Saturday August 23rd to give customers one last opportunity to connect with all of the DWSD and community resources available to them before the moratorium ends August 25th.
6. Improve notification for customers in danger of shut-off.
The DWSD is expanding its efforts to communicate with customers who are late on their payments or may be facing shut-off. Bills will more clearly explain their status and assistance information will be included with the bill. Workers also will hand-deliver notices to all homes in shut-off status one week before their scheduled shut-off to give them time to enter into a payment plan.
7. Implement an Affordable Payment Plan.
Any resident with a delinquent account can enter into a 24-month “10/30/50” payment plan by coming to their local DWSD Customer Care Center, showing a valid state ID and paying down only 10 percent of their past-due balance. (The previous down payment requirement was 30 percent of the past-due balance.) If a customer misses a payment, they can reapply for the program by putting down 30 percent of their past-due balance. A second missed payment will require a 50 percent down payment of their past-due amount. Any customer who misses a third payment will no longer be eligible for the payment plan.
8. Provide financial assistance for low-income Detroit customers.
Starting August 11th DWSD Customer Care Centers will begin processing applications for the Detroit Water Fund. By paying down only 10 percent of their past-due balance, eligible city residents will receive up to 25 percent assistance with their bill from the new Detroit Water Fund. DWSD has partnered with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, which will prequalify residents. To be eligible for Detroit Water Fund assistance, customers must be Detroit residents who:
• Have an outstanding balance between $300 and $1000; AND
• Maintain Average Water Usage for their household size; AND
• Are either enrolled in DTE’s Low Income Self-Sufficiency Plan (LSP); OR,
• Have income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level (for example, a family of 4 must have an annual income below $35,775).
This funding is available on a first come first served basis and is subject to availability.
9. Build Neighborhood Partnerships.
DWSD customers are not alone. We’ve established a support network to assist individuals who may not qualify for some of the DWSD assistance programs. Our partners include United Way 211, THAW, WAVE and Wayne Metro.
10. Provide a clear way to give.
Many people have offered to help Detroiters who are struggling to pay their water bills. There are several ways to donate to the Detroit Water Fund: online, by text message, by check or by phone. Details are available at www.DetroitWaterFund.org
Where to reach customer assistance:
All DWSD Customer Care Centers are now open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and all centers have new Saturday hours from 8AM to 3PM. Locations are:
• Downtown Center, 735 Randolph
• Eastside Center, 13303 E. McNichols (West of Gratiot)
• Westside Center, 15600 Grand River (West of Greenfield)
The DWSD Customer Care Call Center is now open from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM weekdays and also has added the same Saturday hours as the walk-in centers of 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM. The Call Center number is: (313) 267-8000.