A Veteran and His Family Overcome Water Shutoff with Help from The Human Utility

By Arthur Bridgeforth Jr.

Troy M., a 35-year-old quality control inspector, had been toiling at his job and paying his monthly bills without fail until months of guessing by Detroit Water & Sewerage resulted in a massive bill once the utility got around to reading his water meter.

This unexpected water bill threw Troy’s household budget out of whack.

“All my bills in total (were) $1,000 a month and everything was good, and the next thing you know I got a spiked up bill,” Troy said. “I asked what happened and it was in the month of October and they said well for all these months we had been guesstimating or estimating your bill.”

In addition to this unexpected water bill, Troy’s job cut his overtime hours. He was routinely accustomed to paychecks for 60-hour work weeks, but was cutback to the traditional 40-hour work week, so he lost the extra overtime income.

So when Detroit Water & Sewerage told him his bill was more than $600, Troy said he told them he couldn’t pay that amount at the time. So as he fell further behind while juggling other bills, his water bill ballooned to $1,300.

Then on May 18th, Detroit Water & Sewerage shutoff water service to his home.

This service interruption upset the normal routine at Troy’s home. Troy, who lives in Detroit’s Rosedale Park neighborhood, is married and has two sons, 11-years-old and 17-months-old. Troy said his wife and children went to stay with his mother-in-law.

Troy, a U.S. Air Force veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, opted to hold down the fort.

“I own my home and I said I’m not leaving my property I just struggled through it,” he said.

It wasn’t easy. Troy used his Sam’s Club membership to purchase several cases of water and also hauled six gallon jugs of water from his brother’s home.

This hardship even forced Troy to forego the taking a shower for nearly a month.

“The last time I took a shower was May 27th, until they cut the water on,” Troy said.

The service was restored on June 22nd. The weather was hot in Detroit much of the time the water was off, creating an additional hygienic challenge for Troy who works in a plant.

“Oh my goodness yes it was especially (rough) during those hot days and I work in the plant around all these chemicals and I couldn’t get the dirt off me.”

So what led Troy to The Human Utility?

Because he’s a veteran, he initially sought help from a veteran relief fund in Wayne County. But, an initial denial and subsequent appeal to Lansing only yielded a future appointment to discuss the possibility of getting assistance.

He sought out other agencies for help, but without success.

Not deterred, Troy decided to do a Google search to find any agency providing assistance with an outstanding water bill. That search revealed The Human Utility. Troy was intrigued and sent in the required paperwork to apply for assistance.

“Then the next thing you know I got a text message saying that you’ve been approved,” he said. “Then I got an email from the water department saying thank you for your payment.”

The astonishing thing for Troy was that it only took about a week for The Human Utility to process his paperwork and pay $700 toward his water bill.

Because of the payment by The Human Utility, was able to make a payment arrangement on the remaining balance. Now his monthly payments are more manageable.

Thanks to The Human Utility, he can now focus on his future career plans. Troy said he recently became a certified trainer and plans to open his own business one day. Until then he will continue to work at the plant until he can make the full transition to becoming a full-time trainer and entrepreneur.

Donate now & help more people

The Human Utility, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2014, is dedicated to helping low-income families and seniors in the United States pay their water bills to restore or preserve their service. Through our website, we match donors to families for support. With donations from $5 to $5000 we have helped over 950 families get their water turned back on. Give today. Every drop in the bucket makes a difference!