Unlike Baltimore’s H2O Assist program, the water-for-all affordability program included in the Water Accountability and Equity Act would help all residents struggling with unaffordable water bills, including tenants like myself who make up the majority of Baltimore’s residents. H2O Assist continues to require written permission from a landlord to qualify for assistance, which for so many tenants can be difficult, or even impossible, to obtain.
Not only that, but this bill would also create an office of water-customer advocacy and appeals to make the billing process accountable. Unlike the current system, this independent office would give residents a way to dispute incorrect bills and go through a fair appeals process, preventing households from not paying due to a mistake in their bill.
A program aimed at making water affordable in this city won’t truly help low-income Baltimoreans unless it helps all residents in a fair and accountable way.
Gabrielle Rosenthal, Baltimore
The writer is an intern with Food and Water Watch in Baltimore.