What can Cleveland learn from Philadelphia’s ambitious experiment in water billing?

May 3, 2022

This is part one of a three-part series looking at the state of water affordability in Cleveland, Philadelphia and beyond, authored by the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative in partnership with Resolve Philly in Philadelphia.

If Kevina Chapolini-Renwrick couldn’t pay the $15,000 water bill, she’d lose her home.

The South Philadelphia resident began to panic when she saw the city had tacked a notice on her door threatening her with legal action, back in the summer of 2021. Her husband had inherited the property from his parents in 2007, and with it, their unpaid water bill debt.

Tears traced the retired social worker’s cheeks as she recalled the memories tied to the simple rowhouse with beige siding, snugly tucked between its neighbors on a peaceful side street in the Newbold neighborhood.

Chapolini-Renwrick had lived in this neighborhood her entire life. It was where she hosted “Fried Chicken Fridays” for the hungry kids who lived on the block, and where she fell in love with her husband, Yvon Renwrick, who was her first and only boyfriend. And the house was where she said goodbye to him, when he died from cancer in the summer of 2020. 

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