Phone calls and emails poured in as viewers were moved after seeing the story about longtime Englewood resident Hershell Robinson, who went without running water for more than two years. They came to his aid the very next day.
“The next morning everybody started coming by bringing water, then they would give me a few bucks,” Robinson said.
More than two years ago the 83-year-old missed two water bills in a row when he was in the hospital. The city turned his water off.
“It bothers me a lot. I haven’t been able to wash my hands as much,” Robinson told the I-Team on May 22, when the story was first reported.
His situation became more dire when COVID-19 hit and people were told to wash their hands often for safety.
After the I-Team contacted the Chicago Water Department, they qualified Robinson for a new Utility Billing Relief program. The city reduced his water bill from more than $1,600 to $466. Robinson had to hire a plumber to turn on the water, and pay his bills on time for a year, then the city would forgive the $466. But that’s a now a moot point.
“I just didn’t know that there was this many people with kind hearts,” Robinson said.
The morning after his story aired, people showed up at Robinson’s door with cases of bottled water, a refrigerator full of food, toilet paper, even a walking cane. Licensed plumbers came too.
“They started coming in about 9 o’clock. From 9 until 4 o’clock. There was five that had come by. Licensed plumbers yeah,” said Robinson.
By Saturday afternoon, his water was on.
“They put in a new faucet with a filter on it,” he said.
17th Ward Alderman David Moore also saw the story and showed up at Robinson’s home, witnessing the outpouring of help. After carrying water into his home, he told Robinson that the Englewood community came together and raised the money to pay off his bill.
“I got a zero balance now. Oh boy, he said I got a zero balance and it’s all paid,” Robinson announced.
The I-Team was there when he got the confirmation call, and we saw the Water Department arrive to test and make sure Robinson’s water is safe to drink.
“It’s really uplifting for me,” said Robinson. “I didn’t know that many people would care about what was happening to me.”
For more information about the city’s Utility Billing Relief program, click here. Click here for more information about the the Senior Citizen Sewer Service Charge Exemption & Rebate Program, where participants pay no sewer charges, essentially cutting their utility bill in half.
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