DJJ leaders demonstrate at Campus Martius during Hanukkah 2018
DJJ leaders demonstrate at Campus Martius during Hanukkah 2018 (DJJ)

More than 140,000 Detroit households had their water and sewage services shut off between 2014 and 2020.

Detroit Jews for Justice has long been working to end water shutoffs in Detroit, and their efforts came to fruition Dec. 8, when Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced a moratorium on water shutoffs would be extended until the end of 2022. Duggan also announced that Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, former director of the Detroit Health Department and former candidate for governor of Michigan, will head a group looking into ways to make the moratorium permanent.

“We are so glad to see the city finally stepping in to halt this inhumane treatment of our neighbors,” said Rabbi Alana Alpert, executive director of Detroit Jews for Justice, in a statement. “We also know that to win a water affordability plan and get real, permanent protection for Detroiters, we have to continue to be vigilant.”

DJJ has been working in coalition with the People’s Water Board, We the People of Detroit, Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry and Michigan Welfare Rights on water justice in Detroit since 2015.  

More than 140,000 Detroit households had their water and sewage services shut off between 2014 and 2020. DJJ has been working to stop “the unconscionable practice of water shutoffs and to transform the dead-end system of water payment assistance to one based on income affordability,” said Lori Lutz, DJJ Thriving team member and Water Team leader, in a statement. “This ‘miracle’ is a huge step (but far from the last) in that direction.”

Local organizations caution that a moratorium on water shutoffs is not enough.

“The DJJ community plans to continue its work on ensuring all Detroit residents have access to water.

“For five years, DJJ has been involved as an organization,” said Barry Rubin, DJJ water team leader and steering committee member, in the statement. “It often takes a long-term commitment to make meaningful progress. I’m proud of this organization and of all who participated.  Today we must acknowledge that the arc of the moral universe can bend toward justice.”