Maryland State

Victory for water justice!

In 2014, JUFJ learned from activists in Baltimore’s Black and brown communities that water — the most basic of human necessities — has been a source of oppression for thousands of people in our City. And so the fight for water as a human right became JUFJ’s first local campaign in Baltimore.

Water in Baltimore is plentiful, but its cost is staggering. Since 2000, the price of water in Baltimore City has quadrupled — and it’s going up again in 2020. Some residents already pay more than 10% of their income just for water. And in 2017, thousands of Baltimoreans risked losing their homes to tax sales catalyzed by unpaid water bills — often just a few hundred dollars — in a City notorious for sending out incorrect water bills, with no due process to dispute them. 

JUFJ spoke up with our partners to say this must stop. We are part of a movement to ensure that all Baltimoreans, especially vulnerable and low-income residents, can get the water they need. It’s a very simple goal with a very complicated policy path. And we’re winning!

  • In 2014-15, the One Baltimore coalition fought and won against a corporation that wanted to privatize our City’s water system. 
  • With the Right to Housing Alliance, we stopped the city from shutting off water for thousands of regular people — while corporations that owed thousands in unpaid tax bill had all the water they wanted.
  • The Baltimore Right to Water Coalition, led by JUFJ and Food and Water Watch, won a one-year and then a permanent ban on the city selling people’s homes for unpaid water bills. 
  • In the 2018 election, we supported a winning ballot measure permanently preventing the privatization of Baltimore’s water system.
  • And now, our movement has won the biggest systemic change of all: the groundbreaking Water Accountability and Equity Act. Under this new law, residents will only pay what they can afford for water, and there will be a dedicated office to help them with their bills. Renters, who routinely face eviction for unpaid water bills, will finally be protected by this law.

This campaign has been a long five-year journey, but we have made it this far because of the determination of our partners and coalitions. Together we have held our city’s leaders accountable, brought injustices to light, and demanded access for all Baltimoreans to the basic human rights of water and shelter.

Stay tuned for actions you can take on implementing the Water Accountability and Equity Act. Want to get involved in the campaign? Email rianna@jufj.org to connect with our team.

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Campaign Staff