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NBC 10 Focuses on Community Lawyering Clinic’s Advocacy for Philadelphians Without Water

Clinic Director Rachel Lopez with students Sam Scavuzzo and Cassandra Fitzgerald-Black

April 08, 2016

A Community Lawyering Clinic project to aid Philadelphians who lack access to running water gained attention from NBC10, which ran an in-depth story on the problem on April 7.

NBC10 investigations reporter George Spencer explored the fact that some Philadelphians are forced to buy water retail because the city has cut off running water from their homes. Their delinquency on water bills – that caused the shut-offs – sometimes results from complications with the title to homes that are passed down among relatives, the story noted.

“It’s astonishing that we live in Philadelphia, one of the major cities in the wealthiest country, in the United States of America, and there is a sizeable amount of people that don’t have running water in their homes,” said Professor Rachel López, who directs the CLC.

The story noted that the CLC, which is working with some affected residents, has found that the problem stems at least in part from the cumbersome and rigid application requirements of the city’s program for assisting residents unable to pay their water bills.

“They think that these are deadbeats, and what they are are people who just want to pay to get access to their water,” said student Sam Scavuzzo, who with classmate Cassandra Fitzgerald-Black, co-authored a report on the problem, “Needless Drought: The Water Deficit for Low Income Philadelphians.”

The story shows Scavuzzo and Fitzgerald-Black testifying at a public hearing on a proposed water rate hike that could deepen the problem for city residents.