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House of Help Community Center to Host Emergency Town Hall Tonight to Confront Water Shutoff Crisis
Demeeko Williams, Detroit Water Brigade, (313)-279-0608 Ext. 1
Pastor Ray Anderson, House of Help Community Center, (313)-766-6440
DETROIT — The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) restored water to House of Help Community Center early this morning after mounting public pressure from the Detroit Water Brigade and community groups across the city. Pastor Ray Anderson, who leads the church and community center in the Old Redford neighborhood of Detroit, had his Church’s water suspended this past Tuesday less than 24 hours after speaking out against the city’s water shutoff program at a rally at the Federal Bankruptcy Courthouse.
The community center resides in the old Larned Elementary School building, which Pastor Ray and his wife have worked to renovate and convert into a community center and ministry serving the neighborhood with free food distributions, afterschool programs, prayer services and other free community events. The city claims that Pastor Ray is delinquent on his water bill, though the Pastor disputes the amount he is responsible for under the terms of his lease of the building from Detroit Public Schools (DPS). The Pastor has invested over $15,000 in private funds to repair broken piping and other infrastructure in the school building. A shutoff notice delivered by mail to the center after the shutoffs occurred showed a shutoff date of 9/29/14.
“When Detroiters get their water shut off, often times they reach out to churches and community centers in their neighborhood for help. So when a church or community center gets its water shut off, it’s time for all people to step up and fight back. This is a constant problem Detroiters face with the Water Department’s ongoing billing errors and mismanaged shutoff program,” said Demeeko Williams, Political Director of the Detroit Water Brigade.
The city’s aggressive shutoff campaign is the subject of a federal lawsuit in U.S. Bankrupty Court in Detroit, with a decision due from Judge Stephen Rhodes this upcoming Monday, September 29th. When contacted by the Water Department, Pastor Ray was told that DPS is more actively referring its building lessees to DWSD for shutoff. It is possible that the Water Department is anticipating imminent policy changes from Judge Rhodes and is thus expediting its shutoff program in an effort to “cram down” shutoffs before a possible moratorium is imposed next week.
“We’ve been called to action to fight with the Detroit Water Brigade: to come together as a community to talk about what we can do to fight against this unjust practice going on in the City of Detroit. We believe it is everyone’s God-given right to have water,” said Pastor Ray Anderson of the House of Help Community Center in a video posted earlier this week.
The Detroit Water Brigade and the House of Help will co-host an Emergency Town Hall this Thursday, September 25th from 4-7pm at 23700 Clarita St in Detroit.