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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Monday, October 30, 2017

Black and Low-Income Residents in This City Are Being Overcharged For Water -- But Why?

Black resident in Chicago low income neighborhood

It doesn't make any sense, but a recent Chicago Tribune investigation revealed that Chicago residents who are poor and black are paying more for water than others. According to the report, predominantly black communities had water bills 20 percent higher than that of white communities for the same amount of water. Why?

Environmental injustice?

In addition, in Chicago's poorest communities, residents were paying nearly a third more for water than people in the most affluent communities. It has been referred to as a case of environmental injustice when people with the lowest income have to pay the highest price for the same basic necessity, water. But, is it? Or is there another reason for the price differential?

Community leaders explain why

According to Chicago community leaders, there are reasons why low-income residents pay more for water.
  • water lost through cracked pipes and leaky hydrants
  • rate increases needed to replace poor infrastructure

However, the bottom line is that poor people cannot afford to pay a higher price for water. Although city officials may provide explanations, the higher rates for the poor takes a larger percent of their paycheck.

One of many examples provided by the Chicago Tribune was "Residents of Glenwood, a lower-income, predominantly black community, pay $67.60. In the largely middle-income, predominantly white suburb of Willowbrook, residents pay $48.35."

It seems that, although everyone can see what's wrong with this picture, no one is taking any steps yet to rectify the situation.

Watch the video below:


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