With its surging violence and failing public schools, being a Baltimore resident these days doesn't seem to be that enticing a proposition. Unfortunately, crumbling water infrastructure is only adding to the agony of residents that occupy what increasingly looks like a failed city. As The Baltimore Sun notes today, a new study conducted by economist Roger Colton found that a series of water bill hikes, an effort designed to raise money to repair the city's crumbling water infrastructure, has left the poorest residents facing bills equal to 20% of their monthly income.
In 8 percent of the city’s census tracts, the poorest fifth of households face water bills costing more than 20 percent of their income, Colton estimated. In a quarter of the tracts, the poorest fifth face bills amounting to between 10 and 20 percent of their income.
By 2019, Colton concluded, water won’t be affordable for households making 150 percent of the federal poverty rate, which is $36,450 for a family of four. A third of city households make that much or less.
Colton defined affordability as a household paying less than 2 percent of it’s income for water. The federal Environmental Protection Agency uses a threshold of 4.5 percent.
“People just genuinely can't afford to pay ever-increasing water rates,” she said.