June 20: Income-based water bills | Old City preservation audio tour | LGBT Census data

The Kenney administration announced that the Water Department will launch a low-income assistance program that offers payments starting at $12-per-month and debt forgiveness after two years of on-time payments, the Inquirer’s Tricia L. Nadolny reports. Under the new model, payments will be tied to a household’s income, not water usage. Households with an income under 150 percent of the federal poverty level, as well as those struggling with hardship such as losing a job or being a victim of domestic violence, qualify for the program. Officials hope that the expanded assistance program could lead to higher overall collections. Roughly forty percent of payers are behind on their water bills, for a total delinquency of about $262 million, according to the Water Department.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) has developed an audio walking tour that highlights historic preservation hot spots in Old City, NewsWorks’ Peter Crimmins reports. The guide, which is part of the Detour mobile app, accompanies  a current exhibition on the science of preservation, ‘Things Fall Apart,’ and focuses on the ethical and cultural issues of preservation. Crimmins writes that the tour takes “a pro-preservation stance, backed up by interviews with historians and preservationists that point out the potential problems with unchecked development.”

A new document reveals that former HUD Secretary Julián Castro wrote to outgoing Census Bureau director John Thompson on June 30, 2016 that “valid, reliable, and nationally representative data on sexual orientation and gender identity are essential to HUD fulfilling its mission,” NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang reports. The letter, which NPR obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, comes about a month after Democratic Senators Tom Carper and Kamala Harris asked Thompson how the Census Bureau decided to not add sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic for the American Community Survey. The Justice Department (DOJ) had previously requested to the Bureau in November 2016 for consideration and “provided a spreadsheet of statutes describing the ‘legal authority supporting the necessity for the collection of this information,’ ” though stated that it was “unable to reaffirm” its own request in March 2017, halting the Bureau’s evaluation. Carper and Harris say “these communications raise concerns about the role of the DOJ and its influence on government data collection.”

New York-based developer Gotham Bedrock LLC has purchased the 1.5-acre parcel near Penn Treaty Park from Shovel Ready Projects for $7 million, Curbed Philly’s Melissa Romero reports. Gotham Bedrock plans to begin construction immediately on ‘The Views at Penn Treaty,’ a 19-townhome development that will include four-story townhouses ranging from 3,800 to 5,500 square feet. Gotham Bedrock will be the first New York developers to break ground on the Delaware River waterfront.

Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the EPA and the Delaware Division of Public Health updated Hockessin residents about the years-long evaluation and remediation process of the public and private wells in the Greater Hockessin area Monday, NewsWorks’ Zoë Read reports. Officials ensured the public that their drinking water is safe, amid an ongoing investigation on the sources of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in a commercial irrigation well and an evaluation of the Hockessin Ground Water Plume Site, which could be listed on the National Priorities List as a Superfund site. DNREC began the evaluation in 2005, when Artesian Water Company, which provides and treats public drinking water, found small levels of contamination in its Hockessin water well during routine sampling.

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