Donations from the community as well as other organizations, such as the local bankruptcy courts, will be used to provide emergency assistance for water bills. The aid is intended to help very low income families that live in the city of Detroit to keep their water service on.
The funds will be distributed as part of the financial aid that is available from the non-profit THAW organization. This is a service that is administered by the United Way and its partners. There are many components to it, but this particular one is focused solely on water bills.
Any type of assistance provided will be first come and served. There will also be a strict application process in place, including some or all of the following.
As noted, this is a small scale assistance program. Funds are limited and may in fact run out. However, based on demand and many other factors, up to $2,500 may be paid out for the account. This is more than enough money to help anyone that needs it, as the the vast majority of people that struggle will owe less than $500 in back payments.
It in effect also gives residents of Wayne County an incentive to pay their current and future costs. Studies from many agencies show that by reducing their arrearage on someone's account, it will make their bill more manageable over time. This can eliminate the feeling that some people get as to being overwhelmed and not sure where to start.
THAW can also be combined with other payment plans from the city or local providers. In fact, this is often a requirement as the non-profits will require families to both conserve water and address the cause of their hardship. Another benefit to either a payment plan or THAW is that the service will not be shut off while the person is enrolled and abiding to terms of it.
The program is also pro-active. Anyone who signs up, and is enrolled, will have their information provided directly to the water department. This will then prevent them from having their water shut off, provided they meet all of the terms and conditions in place.
Other services will also be combined with THAW. Staff from the non-profit will help the household explore budgeting plans, which will make budgeting easier by establishing a standard monthly bills. Sustainability is also another goal, as account managers will work with the family to show them how to conserve water or participate in other programs.
There are other resources also being rolled out as well. They include additional services from Great Lakes Water Authority, the city of Detroit, the Wayne County Metro Community Action Agency and non-profits such as the United Way. All of these different programs will work together to help lower income families in both the city as well as Wayne County.
For more information, dial (800) 866-THAW. Note this is a limited program.
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