Water debt is crushing low-income Chicagoans and disproportionately affecting Black residents. Over the past decade, Chicago homeowners have racked up over $620 million in water debt. More than 60% of the debt is concentrated in the city’s majority-Black ZIP codes. WBEZ Chicago’s water debt project traces a decade-long trend to uncover how we got here.

The project goes on to explore current policies and programs, including relationships between city government and third-party law firms who profit handsomely from aggressive collection tactics, which continue to drive excessive debt and rob Black communities of generational wealth.