501CTHREE and Elkay Partner With the Benton Harbor Housing Commission
501CTHREE.org is a non-profit reimagined for the next generation and founded by long-collaborating partners Jaden Smith and Drew FitzGerald. Since its inception in 2019, seventeen water boxes have been deployed across the USA providing 100,000+ gallons of free drinking water to community members and replacing 850,000+ 16 oz plastic bottles.
"Low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately experience contaminated tap water. We saw this problem most notoriously in Flint, but contaminated drinking water is a problem throughout the country and that is why we are here with the community in Benton Harbor," said Drew Fitzgerald, Founder, 501CTHREE.
Benton Harbor is a predominantly African-American, mostly low-income community of 9,700 people, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Chicago. Since October 2021, residents have been urged to use bottled water due to elevated levels of lead in the municipal water.
The Water Box launch is in collaboration with the Benton Harbor Housing Commission (BHHC) and is the culmination of training and water testing implemented over the last month. The clean drinking water will be distributed and tested by BHHC's staff to Housing Commission residents and the general public.
The Water Box for BHHC was made possible by a joint effort between 501CTHREE and Elkay, which has been supporting The Water Box with donations of its ezH2O Liv™ water dispensers. This is the first Water Box location sponsored by Elkay and supports Elkay's purpose to bring water to families everywhere they live, work and play.
Staff from Elkay's headquarters in Downers Grove, Illinois office will be at the launch to hand out clean water and pantry items to Benton Harbor residents. "At Elkay, our mission is to put cleaner, healthier water within everyone's reach," said Ted Hamilton, President of Elkay Plumbing. "Knowing that this community has been impacted by contaminated water for quite some time, Elkay is proud to help support Benton Harbor through the 501CTHREE partnership by bringing healthier hydration and contributing to a cleaner environment with the implementation of the Water Box for its residents."
About Benton Harbor Housing Commission
The Benton Harbor Housing Commission (BHHC) was established in 1949 and is committed to providing decent, safe, sanitary in good repair subsidized housing through the United States Department of Housing (HUD) for qualifying families living in Benton Harbor, MI. BHHC owns and operates 398 housing units throughout the City of Benton Harbor including The Ralph Crenshaw Housing Development (Harbor Bluff), HOPE VI Housing, Harbor Towers, Buss Apartments, and several scattered-site housing units. In addition, BHHC administers 201 Housing Choice Voucher (HCVP) (Section 8) through its HCV Program. BHHC is home to a wide variety of programming including the Virginia Edwards Community Center (VECC), which provides space for programming and events to enrich the community. BHHC operations are guided by the established Federal and Local Policies and Procedures for housing. They are committed to ensuring that all residents and applicants have the opportunity of choice in where they live through the Fair Housing Act.
501CTHREE.org's mission is to mobilize the next generation to fight against climate change and for climate justice by creating a global community that embraces and understands innovation and technology. Since launching in 2019, 501CTHREE's Water Box program has brought clean water to seven cities in the US and Puerto Rico. To learn about how you can get involved, visit www.501cthree.org