On her worst days, Mattie McCorkle admits, she feels “less than a person.”
Once or twice a week, the Detroit mother of three collects her loose change and buckets from her bathtub. She drives to a carwash and fills her buckets.
This is how she’s collected water to bathe herself and her three children since the City of Detroit shut the taps to her home for nonpayment in June.
“You never get used to it. It’s embarrassing. Here I am, 40 years old, filling buckets to get by,” said McCorkle, a supermarket cashier.
“It wears me out.”
Detroit’s aggressive water shutoff campaign has received international attention since it began in 2014, but until now, it was unknown how many people continue to live without service long after disconnections.
For years, city officials said the vast majority of shut off customers have water running again within 48 hours when they are put on payment plans.
Now, new city records obtained by Bridge Magazine show occupants of least 1,500 homes – and perhaps as many as 2,715 – still remain without water after disconnections this year.
That’s at least 1 in 7 of the city’s 11,422 shutoffs so far this year. More than 900 of those occupied homes have been without water at least three months.