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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Detroit Water Project Brings Outside Support To Residents In Need

Congressman John Conyers, Jr., (D-Mich.) joins demonstrators protesting against the Detroit Water and Sewer Department July 18 in Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Water and Sewer Department have disconnected water to thousands of Detroit residents who are delinquent with their bills. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Congressman John Conyers, Jr., (D-Mich.) joins demonstrators protesting against the Detroit Water and Sewer Department July 18 in Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Water and Sewer Department have disconnected water to thousands of Detroit residents who are delinquent with their bills. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

The city of Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department has been cracking down recently on delinquent water bills, asking the 140,000 customers that have outstanding bills of two months or more to close them, or face water shut offs.

With the average bill hovering around $540, and Detroit’s poverty levels cresting 40 percent, many residents have been struggling or unable to zero their balances, leading the water department to shut down thousands of residents’ access to water, a situation the United Nations has referred to as “a violation of human rights.”

Oakland entrepreneur and web developer Tiffani Bell and Boston designer Kristy Tillman found each other on Twitter, as they discussed possible solutions. Together, they started the Detroit Water Project, a website that matches willing donors with Detroit residents who have outstanding water bills.

Tillman joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the project, which has so far amassed over 4,500 donors to close upwards of $20,000 worth of water bills.

Guest

  • Kristy Tillman, co-founder of the Detroit Water Project. She tweets @KristyT.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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