For most of us living in the midst of Coronavirus, its effects have touched us in some way, either directly or indirectly. I have personally been touched by this through having lost a close friend to this treacherous virus, and having another close friend and coworker test positive and fight her way back to recovery. This has been one of, if not the most, difficult episode of my life. 

I am accustomed to living and surviving hardships, as many low-income people are, but this COVID crisis has really tested my resolve and changed my life. Honestly, this pandemic has made me lose complete faith in our government. In their desire to protect the most vulnerable residents of our community. I wonder daily how the City of Detroit can be so callous to not care that many people are living without running water at any given time and why this ever had to be an issue, especially during a  crisis of this proportion.  

The policy of the city and DWSD is to disconnect water service for residents that are either $150 or more than 60 days past due on their bill. The only other option that DWSD offers is their 10/30/50%  payment plan, which is a recipe for failure for most residents who while dealing with unaffordability, must now contemplate how to make the down payment for this plan as well as how to manage it along with their current bill. If defaulted on they can reapply at the next tier.  This plan is not sustainable, nor does it solve the issue of unaffordable water rates or prevent mass shutoffs.

Billboard: Detroiters demand a permanent stop to water shutoffs

I wonder how so many within our community can turn a blind eye to this pandemic as if it is unreal while people contract and die from it all around us by not wearing masks, gloves, or practicing social distancing.  Yet I understand it because this all seems like some apocalyptic scene from a movie. It is hard to deal with mentally and thinking with all this negativity, what will become of our future?

Will all in-person meetings continue to be virtual, leaving many people out of the loop due to a lack of accessibility to the internet or computers? Talking to my young daughter, her concern is why people think this is not real; why won’t the city turn on all the water when people need it to live? She also worries about the virus continuing because people can’t get water. Already being involved in activism, she is affected by the protests throughout the city as well as those being conducted at the capital. This  is the first time she has really witnessed the “in your face” racial disparity that has directly contributed to the way things are being handled and how we live.

So what can we do? We’d like to hear your feelings and ideas, please post in the comments and as always, For more information contact THE  PEOPLES WATER BOARD COALITION AT and subscribe to this blog and Stay Afloat until next time! 

Nicole Hill is a directly impacted resident of Detroit, a member of the People’s Water Board and Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, and a Tri-chair for the Poor People’s Campaign.  She is a mother of 7 and is devoted to combating poverty on all levels through her work in water affordability and social change.


The People’s Water Board Coalition advocates for the human rights to water and sanitation and equitable access and affordability for impacted communities.


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