Illustration for article titled Detroit Figures Out How to Charge Poor People for the Right to Not Die From Coronavirus
Photo: Phil Pugliano (Getty Images)

If you had one shot, one opportunity to help someone, would you capture it or would you let them die of thirst?

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti…

Hopefully, it’s not the coronavirus. Because if you live in Detroit, you might not be able to lose yourself in a hot shower or even wash your hands. After depriving thousands of Detroiters of the one essential ingredient to life, the city has graciously decided to restore water to thousands of homes in hopes of alleviating the effects of the rapidly spreading coronavirus…

Advertisement

Kinda.

The Free Press reports that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Gov. Gretchen Whitmire have created a program to prevent water shutoffs and restore service for residents who can’t afford to pay the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) for the most abundant natural resource that covers 75 percent of the planet.

“We know that washing hands is an important defense to this virus,” DWSD Director Gary Brown said in a statement, according to the Metro Times. “[S]o for the duration of the COVID-19 situation, DWSD is implementing this plan to help make sure every Detroiter has access to clean running water.”

The move is a welcome relief to the more than 3,000 of the city’s residents who lost water service last year because of the inability to pay. Environmental activists, poverty advocates and, the ACLU petitioned Duggan and the DWSD to issue a moratorium on shutoffs for the city’s most vulnerable.

Advertisement

The mayor said no.

Duggan said that a “failed policy” granting exemptions to people who couldn’t afford the substance that falls out of the sky for free would encourage people not to pay their bills. Apparently someone informed Duggan about the lowlife con artists who go without water for a few weeks then wait for a global virus to start spreading just so they can get all that free water. All the hustlers are doing it.

Advertisement

Instead, Duggan’s program will generously offer free water to people who couldn’t pay for a biological necessity. It’s an act of love, really. The waterless residents would only have to do one thing to quench their impoverished, thirsty throats:

Pay for water.

The Free Press reports:

On Monday, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Office said that Detroiters whose household income is 150% of the federal poverty level and whose water is disconnected can have service restored for a $25 fee. Those customers can keep service on for $25 a month until the coronavirus outbreak has passed.

Water customers who have received a door hanger warning that they are in danger of shutoff are also eligible for the program. Anyone who believes they are eligible should contact the Wayne Community Metropolitan Action Agency at 313-386-8727. For Detroiters who make that call in the next 30 days, Whitmer’s office will cover the $25 reconnection fee.

Water activists and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had warned that mass water shutoffs in Detroit imperil public health, petitioning Whitmer’s administration to declare a health emergency. Whitmer’s Department of Health and Human Services declined the petition; the ACLU appealed to Whitmer herself.

Advertisement

For the TL;DR crowd, instead of simply offering amnesty, the city will collect $25 from already poor people to prevent the spread of a global pandemic. And if they are really close to dying for the heinous crime of not having enough money, they can ask the state to give them $25 dollars. The city probably got the idea from the great American motto, “Live free or die.”

It’s the Detroit way.

Although Michigan had no confirmed cases of the deadly illness on Monday, city and state officials hope the new policy will encourage hand washing and prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading to people who can afford not to die.

Advertisement

However, the program won’t fix another disease that is quickly spreading across Detroit and the rest of America faster than COVID-19:

Poverty.

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter