[Company Logo Image]  Michigan Welfare Rights Organization

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                                       "You get what you are organized to take!"


Water Affordability Program
Welfare DEform
Immigrant Rights
Past Actions

Welfare Rights Actions


Click on Past Actions for more information about the Detroit Water Dept. pickets, DTE protests, Politician Home Visits, AFSCME pickets, and more!



You’re invited….


 Let’s make it a law that the City of Detroit must make water affordable and stop shutting off the water of low-income people! (pdf flyer)

 Join our petition campaign

Kick-off gathering: Saturday, March 7

10 a.m.-12 noon, Central United Methodist Church, 4th floor, 23 E. Adams  (at Woodward), Detroit


Michigan Welfare Rights Organization

23 E. Adams, 4th Fl., Detroit, MI  48226

(313) 964-0618   www.mwro.org


The next meeting of the MWRO UTILITIES COMMITTEE (pdf flyer)

Will be Monday, March 2, 2009, 5:30 p.m.

Central United Methodist Church, 4th floor, 23 E. Adams (at Woodward), Detroit, MI

Come and help us get ready for our petition campaign, which kicks off on Saturday, March 7, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.




December 9, 2006

State of the Community

Dear Colleagues;

            As we approach the end of the year, we should reflect on where we stand today, and ask that obligatory question, “Are we better off today than we were last year?”  If we are still on this side of the living, the answer is “NO”!

            The country is in turmoil from coast to coast.  Pockets of poverty have now turned into regions under the watch of these mean-spirited Republicans and their liberal sounding Democratic friends.  The national press is careful to select what areas they find to highlight when it comes to the rising, invisible economic climate reports they feed us on the nightly news.  People are poor, are hungry, are unemployed, are afraid, and are aware that the world as we know it has changed.  We are not confused, and we understand that if you are a working person, your “stuff” is in trouble.

            In Michigan along with Hurricane Katrina states, we are hardest hit, so we have seen the misery up close and personal for a longer stretch than others, but the nightmare of economic pain is coming to visit us all.

            For the first time in decades, we have fulltime workers with no benefits!  We have fulltime workers in shelters.  We have seniors dying before their time, cut down early by the stress of being threatened with impending poverty because their pensions and fixed incomes can’t cover the rising costs of living.  We have babies finding loaded guns that accidentally go off, killing or wounding one or more.  We have street crimes being committed by misguided persons who act more like savages than our neighbors.  In Detroit, we have 25,000 public school students who have no healthcare coverage today. We have unprecedented poverty worldwide, and even America has not been spared.  US News and World Report writes that 2% of the total world population OWNS 55% of the world’s resources.  Scandalous!

            Practically everything we know is under attack and there are few voices raised to demand a change.  The time has come to draw that line in the sand.  We are either going to live as free people in this country, with access to all the implements of survival regardless of the ability to pay, or NO ONE can live free and contented.  Let’s work for a change.

            To that end, Michigan Welfare Rights is issuing a “Call to Action.”  For the spring of 2007, we must be ready to emerge from another harsh winter, organized for change.  Most critical to the survival of thousands, is access to free and clean drinking water, a requirement for life.  The Water Affordability Plan has been mired in bureaucratic madness since it was submitted for review and passage by the Detroit City Council. The Water Dept. administration has hijacked the Plan by various treacherous methods, and cannot get on the same page with the rest of the city as they question this sentence this week, and another sentence the next week.  Endless memos and empty correspondences have been issued and responded to week after week while the Dept. continues its diabolical pattern of cutting water off at thousands of homes, month after month.

            Many of our fellow community neighbors will not survive this winter.  Death by poverty is not a new phenomenon where our lives are concerned, and we are all too complacent as we see what is certain to occur again and again.  A fire will take the lives of some children and some seniors who were using alternate ways to heat themselves after their utilities were turned off.  Right after the news reports on the losses sustained, they will go on to report the sports outcomes as if our lives and our deaths mean nothing. Some argument will develop because we are too poor to pay for something, and another person or persons will lose a life.  Domestic abuse will rise, elder abuse will occur, hearts will give out, strokes will be commonplace, and no one will see the connection between our poverty, our suffering, our sicknesses, and our early demise.  Welfare Rights will organize the community toward enrollment into the Water Affordability Plan so we can stop water shut offs.

            The second part of the “Call to Action” involves the other great crisis we suffer, which is the rising homelessness in our region.  What sense does it make to have 14,000 homeless people in our area, and 44,000 vacant properties also standing, many of which are livable, owned by the State of Michigan?  We are proposing direct action of both these fronts…we will be organizing efforts to move homeless people into these properties, and will also organize the escrow accounts to pay for our occupancy.   We need carpenters to help restore these homes.  We need plumbers to help restore these homes.  We need seniors to help sew curtains and bake casseroles to help feed these families when they first move in.  We need lawyers to help get Welfare Rights members out of jail when we defy the banks and move our people inside.  We need Judges to release us.  We need Police Officers to refuse to arrest us.  We need students to ring the properties and help kick in doors.  We need locksmiths to help us install new locks on these doors.  We need organized homeless providers to get on this page and work to end this scandalous condition.  We need the clergy who truly believe in a higher power, to forsake the safety of their warm, inside pulpits to be the barrier in front of us when the forces of evil come to bring us pain.

            In closing, let us remember the words Jack uttered in the movie, “TITANIC.”  Remember, when he looked at the situation and saw that the ship was about the sink, he stood on the forward ledge as it rose, ready to plunge into the sea, he screamed, “Alright Rose, this is it”!!  This is it.  We organize to save of community, our people, our city, our state and our country, or we stand watch as slow and consuming death picks us off, one by one.  Let the courageous and the spiritual among us step forward and prepare for change.  Stand with us, and let us not fall for systematic suffering not another damned moment!

Maureen D. Taylor, State Chair

Michigan Welfare Rights Org.


Detroit, Lansing, Flint, Ann Arbor


On November 11th, 2006 it will be 15 years since we organized the fight back against poverty and homelessness by erecting "Tent City" in Detroit, Lansing, Flint and Ann Arbor, Michigan against Governor Engler, the State Leaders and certain local leaders in their attacks on the citizens of Michigan by eliminating and cutting badly needed programs, such as General Assistance. These protests were organized by the Detroit-Wayne County Homeless Union, the Michigan Up and Out of Poverty Now Coalition (including MWRO), and several other community groups.

Michigan was one of the first state’s to cut General Assistance to adults—over 100,000 Michigan residents—and contributed to additional homelessness and poverty for single persons. Meanwhile, in 1991, the City of Detroit had a 42% vacancy rate in its public housing units and was failing to make repairs in HUD apartments.

We would like to invite you to the gathering on

Saturday, November 11, 2006 at 4:00pm

Central United Methodist Church

23 E. Adams, 2nd Floor (at Woodward), Detroit

We need to come together and look at the past and understand what we

must do for the future.

Homelessness has increased, more people's utilities are shut-off (water, lights and gas), education means no-education, people are not able to feed their families and the housing question is a joke, fewer and fewer people are without health care and children are being taking away from their parents because they are poor.  Further, we cannot find good jobs with benefits.

President Bush is implementing his corporation agenda.  He is implementing laws to enact Fascism.  We owe our children a better future. Please come out and see friends, bring your family, friends and find out what is going on.  We need you to bring some of the following for the homeless hygiene kits we are putting together for the homeless for Holidays at CUMC.  We need items such as toothpastes, toothbrushes, soap, lotion, deodorant, face towels, socks, gloves, etc.

You can call for more information at (313) 964-0618 or 965-5422, or leave a message. We are looking forward to seeing you.

Organized by the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, League of Revolutionaries for a New America, Metro Detroit Labor Party, National Welfare Rights Union, and the peace and environmental community.


Come out to the
Michigan Public Service Commission
Consumer Forum

Oct. 10, 2006 @ 6:00P.M. at the Downtown Campus of Wayne County Community College District, 1001 W. Fort St.

If you have problems with your utilities and need some help with some answers or just need to let your voice be heard by the Michigan Public Service Commission about the problems with utilities, then come out to the Consumer Forum.

Commissioner Peter Lark, Chair of the MPSC will be leading the meeting. You need to be there so Lansing will start doing something about the problems we are facing with our utilities.  If your utilities are shut-off, I know you will be there, if you have a shut-off notice or are mad about the high cost of utilities, then you need to be at the Forum.

Tell your neighbors, your Church members, club member, your family or get the school to send leaflets to the parents about the meeting.


Status of the Water Affordability Program:

At the May 3, 2006, Detroit City Council meeting, Council Members reviewed the Roger Colton's Proposal for the Design of the Water Affordability Program. Councilman Kenyatta spoke on behalf of the Council and agreed that Mr. Colton's proposal should be supported and acted upon. City attorney Robert Walter informed Council Members that he is still writing two legal opinions about the Program: the "check-off" option; and the other about the use of misc. revenue sources (e.g. late fees and savings) to fund the Program.


On June 14, 2006, the Detroit Law Department submitted to the City Council Research and Analysis Division its opinions that the check-off option and misc. revenue sources are acceptable methods for revenue collection in the Water Affordability Program.

6/26/06: This is the final week before the scheduled implementation of the Water Affordability Program, however, Victor Mercado has not initiated the contract with the third-party, non-profit organization, or utility expert, Roger Colton! Please contact Director Mercado's office:


Write or e-mail Victor Mercado, Director, Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept.:

Help us implement the Water Affordability Program in Detroit! Cut and paste this text into your e-mail or U.S. postal letter and send it to: Victor Mercado, Director, DWSD, 735 Randolph St, Detroit, MI 48226, [email protected]


Dear Director Mercado:

I support the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization's WATER AFFORDABILITY PROGRAM! I urge you to implement this plan by July 1, 2006, as you have agreed to with MWRO and the Detroit City Council. This plan includes:


Creating a DWSD funded water affordability program to assist low-income customers with current and arrear bills to prevent water shut-offs;


Implementing the fund through a third-party, non-profit organization with the technical knowledge and staffing to administer it; and


Evaluating the program annually with a third-party consultant.

The Water Affordability Program is an important step in ensuring the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable Detroit residents; and is a good business plan for safeguarding the municipal Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.




reposted from Critical Moment newsprint magazine

Take action! Support Michigan Welfare Rights Water Affordability Plan for the City of Detroit!

Critical Moment supports the struggle for water access rights in our communities. In previous issues (see below), we have told stories of Detroit and Highland Park residents' resistance against water privatization, and the struggle for access for all people. Now, activists and citizens are mobilizing to deliver the message that water is not a commodity, but a human right.

The water affordability plan as proposed by the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization has been accepted by City Council. Pressure is needed on Victor Mercado, the Director of Detroit Water and Sewage Department, to implement the plan by July 1.

Contribute to this urgent campaign by telling Mercado to do what's best for the citizens and the water department and put the plan in to action before any more lives are lost!

Critical Moment past coverage on this issue:


Crimes of Poverty: The Long Winter Ahead in Metro Detroit (Issue 13, November-December 2005)


Smart Bombs, SWAT Teams and Coca-Cola: Capitalism's Big Plans for Highland Park (Issue 10, March-April 2005)

Read about AFSCME Local 207 & 2920 [Water Workers'] Letter to Detroit City Council in Response to the Mayor's Proposed Budget FY 2006-7 on the DWSD:

In this four page letter, the union workers state:


An Independent Audit of DWSD Books is Critical!


DWSD Gets Rate Increase Under False Pretenses!


DWSD Uses Budget Deceptions to Hide Extensive Contracting Out & Privatization


Layoffs Are an Attack and Disproportionate for Union Employees


Days Off Without Pay (DOWOP)


Cuts to Workers Cause Critical Shortages


Monthly Billing “Plan” Will Prove Disastrous!


Management is More Top Heavy than Ever!


DWSD Utilizes Terror Tactics on Employees


City Council Must Stand Against Takeovers and Privatization!


Click here for the full report (MS Word).

Send in your testimonials of Economic Human Rights Violations for the National Truth Commission:

The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign is collecting testimonials of economic human rights violations from poor and low-income people across the country. Please share your story and help us eradicate poverty by focusing attention on the needs of the nation's people--especially those who go without food, housing, utilities, clothing, education, healthcare, living wage jobs, and other basic human rights. See the Faces of the Fallen project or MWRO Get Involved/Community Calendar for more information. Mail in form (pdf) or on-line form.