UN officials ‘shocked’ by Detroit’s mass water shutoffs

Two UN rapporteurs recommended Detroit immediately resume water service for residents unable to pay their bills.

Surrounded by a frenzy of cameras, Detroit resident Rochelle McCaskill explained her predicament to a team of United Nations officials on Sunday: The numbers simply didn’t add up.Out of her $672 monthly disability check, McCaskill spends $600 rent, she said, leaving her unable to pay the city’s water bills, which have skyrocketed to more than twice the national average.“They need a category for those of us who cannot pay,” said McCaskill, whose water was shut off this summer as part of a wave of disconnections that, block by block, have left thousands of city residents without running water.The city turned off McCaskill’s water despite the fact that she had been paying down her $540.10 water bill in increments and that she suffers from MRSA, a contagious infection that the NIH considers a “serious public health concern” and requires frequent bathing.“It makes you feel like a failure in your own home,” she said, as she described washing and brushing her teeth with buckets of water delivered by the community group We the People of Detroit, part of the People’s Water Board Coalition.

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