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Understanding How Poverty Affects Water Affordability in Detroit

Water affordability and access in the City of Detroit is a growing concern for city officials, area residents, and community groups working in the city. In this project, the researcher will work with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), Office of Sustainability, and the Detroit Health Department (DHD) to examine how the broader context of poverty – specifically housing conditions – affects water affordability for city residents. 

The research has three aims:

  1. Determine the extent to which undetected leaks in residential homes contribute to unaffordable water bills for low-income Detroit households.
  2. Collaborate with the DWSD and DHD to evaluate their Shutoff Prevention Pilot and understand how housing challenges affect water affordability.
  3. Use the findings to develop policy recommendations for the City of Detroit and other U.S. cities that can address water affordability by focusing on the challenges created by housing conditions.

Sara Hughes, U-M School for Environment and Sustainability