Crowdfunding campaign seeks to help Detroit residents pay water bills

Website matches donors with those Detroiters who face having their water shut off

City officials on Monday agreed to a two week hiatus on the water-cutting tactic. Photograph: James Fassinger/Corbis

City officials on Monday agreed to a two week hiatus on the water-cutting tactic. Photograph: James Fassinger/Corbis

Amanda Holpuch | | July 23, 2014 – crowdfunding campaign is seeking to match donors with Detroit residents who are behind on their bill payments and face having their water shut off.

By Wednesday afternoon, more than 1,500 donors had signed up on the website Turn on Detroit’s Water, which was created last week by Tiffani Ashley Bell and Kristy Tillman. The pair say they were looking for a way to help some of the more than 80,000 of the city’s residents who are overdue on their water bills.

“We both felt like there’s something we should be doing,” Bell said. “And we both came to the conclusion that we would pay someone’s water bill for them, if we could actually help with that.”

Individuals, but not businesses, can submit requests for help on the website by providing their Detroit Water and Sewerage Department account number, and overdue amount. They are then matched with people who provided an email address, and the amount of money they can contribute to help those with overdue payments. Even small donations are accepted, as multiple payments can be made to single accounts.

City officials on Monday agreed to a two week hiatus on the water-cutting tactic – which is meant to help recoup $89m in overdue water bills – giving people who say they can’t afford payments time to find a solution. The water department will also be using that time to inspect properties that have illegally turned their water back on and possibly issue steep penalties.

Bell and Tillman, who live in Oakland and Boston respectively, wanted to create a system that allows people to pay directly to the source and provide immediate relief. Of the 320 people who have requested help for bills that are as high as $5,500, 19 have had their bills completely paid off, including one person who owed the city $500.

“At this point, it’s totally giving you a clean slate to work from,” Bell said. “You can take it from there on your own.”

Of the $18bn in debt Detroit reported in its bankruptcy filing last year, $5.4bn is related to water and sewer bonds.

Bill Johnson, a spokesman for Detroit’s water and sewage department, said the agency was not aware of Turn on Detroit’s Water and is not affiliated with it. “It is not something we sanction or approve of,” Johnson told the Guardian.

Johnson said that if people are having trouble making payments, they do not need to rely on an outside source for help, because the agency has alternative payment plans available. “I would encourage people not to involve themselves in that,” Johnson said. “If they have a problem, we consistently say, bring it to us – come into one of our customer care centers and we will address the problem.”

He said that no one that has proven they have a legitimate payment problem has had their water terminated, and if they did and told the agency, it would be restored. “This whole thing about people being deprived of water and babies going without water and health conditions, we’re not seeing that,” Johnson said.



Mountain XpressFaces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initativesMountain XpressON THE SPOT: The scenes in Luke & Jo will be shot chronologically, which will allow for more improvisation in the dialogue, according to the feature film's crowdfunding page. Andie Morgenlander and E [...]

AZCentral.comTiny companies lure investors under Arizona crowdfunding lawAZCentral.comInvestors who make bets under the state's one-year-old crowdfunding law certainly have the potential to get in on the ground floor, but they must be patient and might not receive any returns. Th [...]

BloombergCouples Desperate For Children Turn to Crowdfunding FertilityBloombergCrowdfunding has become a popular mechanism for many couples who can't afford the high costs of IVF, or adoption and surrogacy. “It's not an easy thing to share publicly,” says Crystal Barrett, 33 [...]

MarketWatchWhy a crowdfunding site is giving out $10000 scholarshipsMarketWatchCrowdfunding site GoFundMe announced Thursday that it will award $10,000 to 10 students with pages on their site that fundraise for education. The award is part of a contest the site held throughout Septemb [...]

Huffington PostReal Estate Crowdfunding's Pathway of ChangeHuffington Post“Crowdfunding is just the Internet,” stated Attorney Mark Roderick as he opened last month's RealCap Chicago. RealCap is an annual conference that joins crowdfunding leaders and innovators to propel th [...]

BBC NewsNHS trust 'relies' on crowdfunding to equip wardBBC NewsAn NHS trust has launched a crowdfunding appeal to buy equipment for a new hospital unit because "it cannot get started without donations". The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore, n [...]

MottoIVF: More Couples Crowdfunding to Pay for Procedure - MottoMottoMore and more couples are turning to crowdfunding to fund costly in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, Bloomberg reports.More Couples Who Can't Afford IVF Are Turning To Crowdfunding For HelpRomperCouples des [...]

EntrepreneurIs Crowdfunding Right for You? Answer These 7 Questions to Find Out.EntrepreneurCrowdfunding is a popular and increasingly accessible way to put your prospective product or business in front of millions of people. And, thanks to the visibility of massive success stories, t [...]

Boing BoingCrowdfunding a bike-lock that squirts vomit-inducing antipersonnel gas when cutBoing BoingThe Skunklock is a $109 crowdfunded gadget that contains pressurized vomit-inducing gas the creators call "Formula D_1," and which is intended to induce immediate vomiting wh [...]

WestwordProgressive-Rock Band Marillion Pioneered CrowdfundingWestwordThat was the beginning of crowdfunding for us — and for every band, really.” When it came time for the recording and release of the followup to the 1999 record, Kelly and the band realized that one of [...]

CFB Finance

Press Release

Live Crowdfunding .tv

What's Next Step in Regulation A+ JOBS ACTS Title IIII :L Interview : Steve Cinelli with Brian Korn Securities and Crowdfunding/Peer-to-Peer Lending Lawyer, Watch more video library | Conference | Interview | Campaign Showcase | Research | Education |