Court: Higher water charge for public housing is not discriminatory

BY: Diannie Chavez/Cronkite News and Kimerly Silverio-Bautista | AZ Mirror

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court said Friday that an Arizona water district can charge more in upfront fees to public housing residents, even though the policy disproportionately affects minority customers and single mothers.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the policy by the Maricopa Domestic Water Improvement District does have a discriminatory effect. But the court said the policy is not “impermissibly discriminatory” because there is a legitimate business reason for it – covering unpaid bills that Pinal County, which owns the Edwards Circle public housing, has refused to pay.

Jeffrey Matura, the water district’s attorney, welcomed the court’s decision because it “affirms what we always believed to be true.”

“This policy was never intended to discriminate against anyone who lived in the public housing units, but rather as a way to protect the district’s financial stability,” said Matura, who argued the case before the court.

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