The Human Utility

By Grace DeRose-Wilson, Screening Integration Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan

Have you ever had to live without running water? At best, living without running water can be challenging; for older adults and people with disabilities, this situation can be life-threatening. Many low-income older adults and people with disabilities do not have easy access to transportation. Even with reliable transportation, tasks like grocery shopping can be challenging or impossible. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates on average, a person uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. For individuals who must walk to the grocery store or bus stop, or who have limited mobility, hauling this amount of water each day can be impossible.

Bottled water is also more expensive than tap water. In 2016, the International Bottled Water Association reported that the average wholesale price for a gallon of bottled water was $1.11. Many people who do not have running water often find bottled water unaffordable.

If you live in Michigan or Maryland and are struggling to cover your water bill, you may be eligible for help from The Human Utility. The Human Utility is a nonprofit organization that assists individuals who are struggling to pay their water bill. There is an online application, that only takes a few minutes to fill out. Generally, individuals are only eligible for water bill assistance from The Human Utility once during an 18-month period.  

After filling out an application, The Human Utility requests your water company account number and the required documents. Typically, these documents include proof of income, a state-issued ID, and a copy of your lease or deed. Applications are usually processed within 10 business days, and your water company is paid within a week of approval. After help is received, The Human Utility will call to let you know how to restore your service or prevent a shut-off. You may also receive a call several months later to check on your progress.

Check out The Human Utility to get help paying for a water bill, help someone pay for a water bill, or if your organization is interested in partnering with The Human Utility.

Grace DeRose-Wilson is a Screening Integration Coordinator for MiCAFE at Elder Law of Michigan and has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since November 2018. As a Screening Integration Coordinator, Grace helps Michigan seniors navigate the benefits application process, and helps raise awareness of benefits through community outreach events.