MAYWOOD, Ill. — As many as one in 10 households in Maywood could have their water shut off, officials said Monday, as hundreds of homeowners struggle to keep up with their water bills amid the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gloria Banks inherited a four-unit rental property in the village when her mother died in 2008. She said she now finds herself stuck between a rock and hard place, trying to honor her mother’s dying wish of keeping it in the family while trying not to go deep into debt.
Banks lost the senior exemption after she took control of her mother’s building, and now owes almost $13,000 in taxes. Her tenants are low income and receive Section 8 assistance, but Banks said the housing authority won’t give her an increase to cover her expenses.
Banks said as a result, she now finds herself in foreclosure. Then she got a shutoff notice from the Village of Maywood for failure to pay an $895 water bill.
“The taxes and the water rates are the culprits,” Banks said. “Each month I pay at least $200 or more on the water bill and it’s to no end.”
Maywood Trustee Nathaniel George Booker said 750 water shut off notices, equating one on each block, were sent out last week to residents who were 60 days or more behind in payments regardless of the amounts.
Booker says the village suspended shutoffs back in March, but resumed normal operations in August. He said many in the small western suburb who got notices haven’t received state, county or any other financial aid they’ve applied for and are struggling to keep up.
“It’s the factor of are we being human,” Booker said. “Robotically, the standard says your water should be cut off. Yes, but as a human and living in 2020 we’re dealing with COVID. Let’s look at it a little differently.”
A virtual village board meeting will be held Tuesday evening to take a vote on eliminating water shutoffs until the end of the year.
In that time, Booker said he wants the water department to work with people on making payment arrangements and address the $300reactivation fee, which he says is much less in neighboring communities.