Rev. Luis Cortes, Co-Presidente de la Campaña de Vacunación “Todos los Credos” (Foto de archivo: Staff Sgt. Ross Whitley, JFHQ, PA National Guard)

I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink

Too many Philadelphians continue to risk losing access to clean running water if they fall behind with paying their water bill. Our neighbors are relying on shut-off protections, which need to be renewed. Water shutoffs is a public health issue and, more importantly, a moral one. We call upon the next Mayor of the City of Philadelphia to permanently renew these protections.

Every person in our city has been affected by COVID-19, directly and indirectly. Although we all wish the impact of the pandemic to be over, it is far from so, and a resurgence of this or other viruses are quite possible. Today, we continue to heed public health warnings to follow best practices with regards to good hygiene, such as frequent hand washing as crucial to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other infirmities and diseases. Water shutoffs are potentially a threat to our public health and community well-being. 

Without running water, our many fellow Philadelphians today are not able to cook, are not able to clean, are not able to shower, are not able to wash their hands, nor flush their toilets. This is unjust and irrational and goes against the most basic of human rights and dignity. We are better than this.

Many who are at risk of losing access to clean running water in our city have been under the burden of unemployment or underemployment. The punishment for those who lack the resources for payment of their water bill should not be preventing access to life-giving water. If anything, maintaining access increases their potential to rise out of poverty rather than go deeper into it. As a matter of fact, water shutoffs can lead to evictions and foreclosures, a form of legal immobility out of poverty, and, again, unfair and unjust.

Now is the time for water justice. For those of us who rely on the Holy Bible as our compass and our guide, we find in Matthew 25: 41-42, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink…” Unjust water shutoffs is not only an inhumane act toward the poor, but prevents the poor from exercising their faith by not being able to fulfill the Word of God to give someone a clean glass of water.

Mayoral candidate and potential Mayor of Philadelphia, let’s end this injustice and give hope to the most vulnerable in our midst. We call on you to preserve the gains granted during the pandemic with regards to preventing shutoffs and renew the shutoff protections granted under the pandemic.

Rev. Luis Cortés, Jr.

Esperanza Founder, President and CEO

Rev. Rubén Ortiz

Esperanza Director of Faith & Capacity Initiatives

Director of the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity

Rev. Carlos Diaz

Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia, President


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