The city of Flint, Michigan declared a state of emergency in December 2015 after the city’s water source was found to be contaminated with lead. While the city is now using Detroit as a water source, and lead levels are falling, a large number of the city’s pipes won’t be fixed or replaced for another few years. Now, even though public officials have been charged with felonies for so grossly handling the water crisis, it’s the city’s residents who are being abused once again. As NBC 25 reports, the city is threatening foreclosure on thousands of residents for unpaid water bills.
After sending shutoff notices, the city has now sent tax lien notices to over 8,000 residents who have until May 19 to pay unpaid water bills that cover periods of time of six months of more. In one case, the bill is for over $900.
“I got scared, for probably the first time since this all started this actually scared me,” Melissa Mays, who is a mother and water activist, told NBC 25 about receiving the notice. She said that she intends to pay to avoid foreclosure proceedings.
The crackdown on bills began after Michigan governor ended the state’s subsidies for water bills back in February.
According to Al Mooney of the Flint Treasury Department, the shutoff notices are working and the city has brought in more revenue as a result, and the hope is the tax liens will boost revenue even further.
“We have to have revenue coming in, so we can’t give people revenue, I mean excuse me, give people water at the tap and not get revenue coming in to pay those bills,” Mooney said.