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Why is the City of Wilmington Shutting Off People's Water During a Pandemic?
The Biden Administration and Congress have sent the city and state millions of dollars to keep residents housed and safe during COVID - including having access to clean water.
Join your neighbors to let the City of Wilmington know that it's time to stop water shut offs and take steps to guarantee every resident has access to water. Water is essential for life, especially during a pandemic.
The rally will start at 4:30 PM on Wednesday, February 24th in Peter Spencer Plaza. You can download the factsheet here.
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Between June-October 2021, the City of Wilmington sent shut-off notices to 530 residential customers and shut off the water of 103 families.
The pandemic is not over. In the first week of December 2021, Delaware had twice as many COVID-19 cases and almost twice as many COVID-19 hospitalizations as in the first week of November.
WATER IS A HUMAN RIGHT AND A BASIC NECESSITY, ESPECIALLY DURING A PANDEMIC
Access to safe, affordable water is vital to stop the spread of COVID19 and other bacterial or viral infections through frequent handwashing and cleaning. But many Wilmington residents are struggling to pay high water bills and are at risk for water shut off and foreclosure.
WILMINGTON IS FACING A WATER AFFORDABILITY CRISIS
The average residential customer uses 6,000 gallons of water a month and the average monthly bill, including all charges and fees, is $93.92. This equals an annual bill of $1116 a year.
The cost of water for Wilmington residents has been going up fast, faster than inflation and the minimum wage. Revenue from direct user charges- water and sewer bills- tripled from 2002 to 2022, according to figures included in the city’s annual budgets from those years.
A GROWING NUMBER OF FAMILIES ARE AT RISK OF LOSING ACCESS TO WATER
According to Wilmington’s Finance Department, the city had over 10,000 overdue accounts in March 2021 out of the 36,000 total utility customers.
While the City of Wilmington stopped doing water shut-offs for 16 months at the start of the pandemic, the City started shutting off water again for past-due water bills in June 2021. Out of 530 residential customers that received water shut-off notices from June-Nov. 2021, 103 (1 in 5!) had their water shut off and still had no water by December 7, 2021.
Lack of water places residents and members of their communities, including schools, workplaces, and other shared spaces, at risk of contracting bodily illnesses, including COVID-19.
WE ARE ASKING MAYOR PURZYCKI TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION:
Short-term: Keep the water on during the pandemic
Stop water shut-offs for 6 months
Fund the Utility Assistance Program for home-owners
Establish a pilot program with DHAP to cover water debt during the pandemic for households in low-income census tracts
Stop water bill foreclosures for homeowners for 6 months
Long-term: Build a sustainable water utility with affordable water rates
End water debt, rebuild water infrastructure and ensure water access for all
Leverage federal resources for major water infrastructure improvements
Cap water rates for low-income residents and help them out of water debt
End water shut-offs for non-payment
End water foreclosures for home-owners
Check out this Virtual Town Hall with Council Member Shané Darby, sponsor of water shut-off moratorium ordinance, talking with HOMES organizer Branden Fletcher.
What You Can Do to Help Stop Water Shut-Offs