When Detroit began shutting off the water supply to thousands of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable residents who were behind on their water bills in 2014, U.N. experts called it a violation of human rights. Three years later, the same thing is still happening. On April 19, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department began another round of mass shutoffs.

One nonprofit has a simple way to help: If you donate money, they’ll use it to pay off overdue bills.

The Human Utility first launched in 2014 as the Detroit Water Project, when cofounder Tiffani Bell–a Code for America fellow at the time, based in Oakland–read about the situation in Detroit and started tweeting about it. As she dug around on the water company’s website, she found a list of delinquent accounts and began to speculate about helping pay them off. Bell worked remotely with another volunteer she met on Twitter (Kristy Tillman, now …
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