Low Income Housing Gets More Expensive

The cost of living is about to go up for some Section Eight Public Housing residents. The Mississippi Regional Housing Authority plans to require tenants to pay for their water utilities.

In the past, the state agency cover water bills. But rising costs related to excessive water use have put a strain on the housing authority's budget.

Before, one master meter measured a housing community's collective water use. Now that's changing.

"Every individual house will be metered for its water usage and the individual resident will be responsible for paying the bill," says Jessie Billups with Mississippi Regional Housing Authority.

That's a responsibility 73 year old Johna Reece says she can't afford.

"It's going to cause a lot of problems," says Reece. "Some of my utilities, I might have to cut off. And then my medication's really going to be affected because I have to pay for my medication, and then I have to buy most of my groceries."

Johna Reece says she doesn't waste water. In fact, she says she uses only what's necessary to survive.

"I use it for washing, washing dishes, taking baths and just a small amount maybe a pitcher of water on my plants sometimes," says Reece.

Billups says tenants like Reece who use water conservatively have nothing to worry about.

"We're going to do an average analysis of water usage," says Billups. "If you're under that average, you're probably going to benefit."

Billups says the only people who will end up paying serious out of pocket expenses are those who waste water or use excessive amounts.

The housing authority plans to have the individual water meters in place and working within the next 60 to 90 days.

Officials with the Mississippi Regional Housing Authority say tenants will receive advanced notification and an increase on their utility allowance will be in place before the individual meters are activated.