Newark, NJ commits act of water terrorism against citizens

This is a Chicago water shutoff notice, but we bet that many unfortunate citizens of Newark, NJ have received something remarkably similar. In Newark, tenants are enduring shutoffs, even though they are not responsible for the payment.

This is a Chicago water shutoff notice, but we bet that many unfortunate citizens of Newark, NJ have received something remarkably similar. In Newark, tenants are enduring shutoffs even though they are not responsible for the payment.

Or at least from the point of view of the easily-enraged, given-to-hyperbolic-vitriol, and overly-reliant-on-hyphenated-adjectives Waterblogged.info.

There are several reasons for failure to pay utility bills. One, I suppose, is trying to game the system–you notice that month after month of nonpayment brings threats but no action, and your lights keep glowing, and your water keeps flowing. You could pay, but why? The only pressure is that which is pushing water through your pipes. Life is good, and not nearly as expensive.

However, it’s just as likely that unemployment or underemployment is the culprit, as you can see from this New York Times‘s story about Newark’s decision to cut off the water to property owners owing large and/or long overdue payments. No doubt that, among those scurrying to City Hall to either pay in full or cut a deal, there are deadbeat owners of apartment buildings who have left their tenants low and dry. But why should the tenants suffer for the landlords’ sins?

The article quotes a single mother with two children. She only recently found a job after a year of unemployment. Why should she have to plead with a city worker not to shut off her water? If you think she’s guilty, why should her children suffer?

A story on NJ.com, the online home of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger, notes that while city officials consider the move “good government,”  local housing advocates call it “draconian,” saying that:

. . .[it] unfairly penalizes tenants whose landlords are responsible for paying the water and sewer bills. Matt Shapiro, president of the New Jersey Tenants Organization, said tenants have legal recourse should their service be shut off. “If they’re not being provided with basic services, they don’t owe any rent,” Shapiro said, citing a law that requires landlords to provide units that are “habitable.”

This story from Newark CBS affiliate Channel 2 notes that the utility is owed a whopping $29 million (!) and in desperation has turned to playing hardball against citizens without gloves and headgear. Its officials admit to as much:

The bottom line? The city says this admittedly aggressive position is not only an invitation, but essentially a demand to reopen the lines of communication.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: