Report: Practically half one million US households, largely in cities, lack indoor plumbing

New research finds that almost half a million households in the United States, largely and perhaps surprisingly urban ones, lack proper indoor plumbing, according to The Guardian. 

The data, which was compiled from U.S. Census Bureau statistics by the Plumbing Poverty Project (PPP), a collaboration of the University of Arizona and King’s College London, and published Monday, found that renters and people of color, even in some of the country’s wealthiest cities, are more likely to be in a home without running water or toilets that flush.

The issue was found to be especially dire in San Francisco, where nearly 15,000 families live without a working plumbing system, according to The Guardian. San Francisco also has the third-most billionaires of any city in the world, the outlet noted.

Data also showed that, as of 2017, Black people made up 9 percent of San Francisco’s population but 17 percent of homes without indoor plumbing, The Guardian reported.

“The story of plumbing poverty in San Francisco is inextricably tied to unaffordable housing, declining incomes, post-recession transformations in the California rental sector, and racialized wealth gaps, fueled by a kind of ‘anti-Black urbanism’ that has either driven Black San Franciscans into more precarious housing conditions or out of the Bay entirely,” Katie Meehan, lead researcher of the PPP and professor of environment and society at King’s College London, told The Guardian.

San Francisco renters make up less than half of households in the city’s metro area but account for nearly 90 percent of homes lacking functional plumbing, The Guardian reported.

The research also showed that cities including Milwaukee, San Antonio, Phoenix, Seattle and Cleveland made little to no progress improving their plumbing issues between 2000 and 2017. All five cities have more than 3,000 households without proper plumbing, according to The Guardian.

“It’s not only that the gap between the water-rich and the water-poor is widening in America, it’s also that it’s driven by a housing sector that lacks any safety net for working families, especially households of color, that cannot afford the astronomical prices of San Francisco, Seattle, or now even Portland,” Meehan said.

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