(DETROIT) — United Nations human rights officials on Monday criticized the city of Detroit for shutting off water to customers behind on their bills, saying that the shutoffs discriminate against minorities.
Officials spent the weekend in Detroit “to learn more about the impact of water disconnections on the living conditions of individuals and households and on their human rights to water, sanitation and housing.”
“Without water,” the U.N. statement read, “people cannot live a life with dignity.” Further, “when people are genuinely unable to pay the bill, it is the State’s obligation to provide urgent measures, including financial assistance, a specially low tariff or subsidies, to ensure access to essential water and sanitation for all.”
The city’s water policy allows for water to be shut off to customers more than 60 days behind on their bills. This year alone, 27,000 households have had their water shut off in Detroit.
U.N. officials said that the city had raised water rates by 8.7 percent, passing on the expense of leakages in aging infrastructure.
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