WRAP offers water bill relief to residents of Madison Heights, Hazel Park

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published November 18, 2020

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MADISON HEIGHTS/HAZEL PARK — With many unemployed or underemployed during this time of pandemic, paying the monthly bills might be tougher than usual. Those who are struggling with their water bills may want to look into the Water Residential Assistance Program, or WRAP.

The Great Lakes Water Authority is behind the program, which is administered through the Oakland-Livingston Human Service Agency, or OLHSA.

Program benefits include a home water audit, minor plumbing repairs (usually around $1,500 in value for residents above 120% average usage), water saving kits and consumer training classes, and additional support services.

Clients can receive help with monthly bills up to $1,000 per household. This includes monthly $25 credits, up to $300 per year, and arrearage assistance up to $700, to be paid 50% (up to $350) within the first month of the program, and 50% (up to $350) after one year. Enrollees are also eligible for second year arrearage assistance, up to an additional $700.  

To qualify for assistance through WRAP, one must be responsible for water payments on the lease and provide proof of residency, and have a household income at or below 200% of the federal poverty levels. The income limits, based on number of members in the household, are as follows:
    • One member: $25,520
    • Two members: $34,480
    • Three members: $43,440
    • Four members: $52,400
    • Five members: $61,360
    • Six members: $70,320
    • Seven members: $79,280
    • Eight members: $88,240
    • Nine members: $96,600
    • 10 members: $100,980

Those with questions can call the program hotline at (313) 386-9727.

According to Barbara Jackson, the WRAP program manager at OLHSA, the home audit is a one-time water audit that includes an assessment of all household plumbing, in addition to education and resources given on water conservation and energy conservation, as well as financial literacy.

The minor plumbing repairs, up to $1,500 in value per household, can fix issues identified in the audit that lead to high-water usage, finding and fixing leaks, upgrading water-using fixtures, and assisting with lead replacement. Examples include a toilet tablet check for leaks, and replacing shower heads, toilet flappers, kitchen faucet aerators and bath faucet aerators.

“WRAP offers 12 months of financial assistance towards water bills, with client responsibility of paying current charges at the time the bill is due, instead of paying the entire bill,” Jackson explained. “When enrolled in WRAP, clients are allowed to miss one payment without being removed from the program.”  

The program is not new. The OLHSA began assisting people with WRAP support services in 2016 with grant funding from the Great Lakes Water Authority. But it may be needed now more than ever, officials say.

“Since the pandemic, there has been a great need for all services in the community, in addition to water, such as rent and mortgage, utilities like gas and electric, food and hygiene, in addition to financial assistance and technology,” Jackson said. “At this time, funding is also available by appointment for those other forms of assistance.”

More information on other assistance programs is available at the OLHSA website, OLHSA.org. The number for the OLHSA is (248) 209-2600.  

Melissa Marsh, the city manager of Madison Heights, said that WRAP has been a valuable asset for the community.

“I am proud that Madison Heights has been able to participate in the WRAP program for several years. It has proven a valuable resource for our residents that are in need of financial assistance with their water bills,” Marsh said. “I would encourage anyone who may be struggling to pay these utilities to reach out to OLHSA today.”

For more information about WRAP, or to schedule an appointment, call (313) 386-9727. Additional information is available at the WRAP website, www.waynemetro.org/WRAP.