The International Social Movements Gathering on Water and Affordable Housing is proudly coordinated by Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO) and the Detroit People's Water Board Coalition (PWB). We have convened this gathering of regional, national and international allies to draft solutions and strategize on efforts to demand water and housing affordability and access for all people. By expanding networks and alliances with organization and groups working on similar fronts, we can make it possible to demand and deliver these basic human rights.
- Michigan Welfare Rights Organization is a union of public assistance recipients, low income and underemployed workers, and no income people (including those with disabilities, persons who are chronically unemployed), people on limited fixed incomes united to eliminate poverty. We organize against economic systems, policies and programs that keep people in poverty and that violate human rights. We advocate for national guaranteed incomes and the nationalization of utilities, housing, health care and protection of public education. Currently, we are engaged in efforts to defend the right to water and housing, including restoring shutoffs and stopping evictions. Founded in 1968, MWRO is an original member of the National Welfare Rights Organization and NWR Union; and we are active members of the Assembly to End Poverty, Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, and the Detroit People's Water Board Coalition.
- People's Water Board Coalition is a Detroit-based coalition of over 20 local, statewide and national grassroots groups, social justice and food justice advocates, non-profit environmental organizations, faith-based affiliates and labor unions committed to protecting Southeast Michigan’s fresh water and water-sewerage system from pollution, high rates and privatization. PWB members meet bi-weekly to report, strategize and carry-out community actions and programs that promote their collective mission:"Water is life. The People’s Water Board advocates for access, protection, and conservation of water. We believe water is a human right and all people should have access to clean and affordable water. Water is a commons that should be held in the public trust free of privatization. The People’s Water Board promotes awareness of the interconnectedness of all people and resources."The coalition was founded in April 2009 by several organizations committed to modeling democratic, community-based solutions for water access, affordability, quality and as a public trust – in contrast to draconian policies and practices of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). In it’s six years, the PWB has developed a wide base of organizers and advocates across the Great Lakes, and has expanded international alliances with human rights groups.
In 2014, MWRO and PWB were co-plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the City of Detroit, DWSD and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to stop water shutoffs, restore water service to low income customers and to implement the 2005 Water Affordability Plan. These efforts, along with international media and petition campaigns, drew the attention of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteurs on water, sanitation and housing who met with Detroit residents and organizations and issued a Joint Press Statement on adequate housing and the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation (October 18-20, 2014). Today, the lawsuit continues under appeal.