Murphy opposed to helping people ‘who can’t afford to live here’
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – The City Council approved participation in the Water Residential Assistance Program March 5, with Council President Thomas Murphy opposed, saying it “attracts people who can’t afford to live here.”
The goal of WRAP, a water utility assistance program available to Great Lakes Water Authority member communities, is to help eligible, low income households with funding that focuses on bill assistance, water conservation and self-sufficiency initiatives.
Murphy said Lincoln Park “has a big neon sign” that welcomes everyone in, and he contends that not everyone can afford to live in Lincoln Park.
“We have drug facilities, we have halfway houses, we have thrift stores,” Murphy said. “We have everything that draws in people that really can’t afford to live here, and if we want to bring our city up, we have to attract people who can afford to live here.”
Murphy said he would like to live in Beverly Hills, but he can’t afford to live there, so he doesn’t live there.
“So I am saying if you can’t afford to live here, don’t move here and expect us to provide everything for you, because we can’t afford it,” Murphy said.
Mayor Thomas Karnes said the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency approached city officials, asking them to participate in the GLWA WRAP.
Karnes said the city still has the ability, under WRAP option 2, to place unpaid water bills on the property taxes of delinquent owners. Option 2 includes payment assistance of up to $300 per household, home water audits, home repairs up to $1,000 to fix minor plumbing issues, water saving kits and training classes, and supportive wrap-around services.
Murphy asked what participation in WRAP would cost the city.
City Manager Matt Coppler said the primary loss the city would see would be the penalties that are associated with an account that goes into this program, but WRAP provides funds that can be applied toward the past due amount, so the city would only lose out on the 10 percent penalty.
“We as a community are already paying money into this program,” Coppler said. “So the money would be provided through Wayne Metro, from Great Lakes Water Authority, to the residents that enroll within the program.”
Karnes said the city would agree to stop pending water shutoffs once a resident is enrolled in the WRAP, would waive penalties for WRAP participation, and would provide access to past customer billing history.
Murphy reiterated that Lincoln Park should not provide services that attract low income people.
“We keep bringing sickness programs to the city, we provide halfway houses, we have pawn shops, we have thrift stores,” Murphy said. “We have a number of things just to bring in people who really really can’t afford to live in Lincoln Park and then we wonder why we can’t pay our bills here. I’m sorry – I am not for this.”
Karnes said WRAP has the ability to help people who are already in the city and in need, and will help them get to the point where they are able to pay for their water bills in the future, and take part in some financial counseling.
For more information, go to glwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/WRAP-FAQ-Residents-081415.pdf.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)