Flint residents are at risk of losing their homes if they don’t pay water bills

The crackdown comes after Michigan’s Republican governor ended state subsidies.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File
CREDIT: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File

Less than three years after the water supply started poisoning people, residents of Flint, Michigan are now at risk of losing their homes if they don’t pay delinquent water bills.

A local NBC affiliate reports that more than 8,000 Flint residents “are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure if they don’t pay up.”

“After recently putting out shuts off notices the city is now back to threatening tax liens on people’s homes,” 25News reports. “What gets them on this list is not paying a water bill for six months or more… After May 19, for those who do not pay, a lengthy process begins which could end in foreclosure.”

The city is cracking down after Gov. Rick Synder (R) decided to end the flow of state subsidies for water bills at the end of February. That decision came on the heels of Michigan officials announcing that Flint’s water met federal guidelines for lead in January.


At that time, ThinkProgress spoke with Melissa Mays, a Flint resident and activist who wasn’t comforted by the news that Flint’s water met federal standards. That “doesn’t mean its safe,” Mays said, because “the only safe number is zero.”

Mays added that water filters malfunction so often that “we’re not willing to gamble with our children’s lives.”

Now Mays finds herself among the residents who may lose their homes if they don’t pay their water bills, 25News reports.

“I got scared, for probably the first time since this all started this actually scared me,” Mays told the station, adding that she needs to pay nearly $900 by May 19 to avoid a lien being placed on her property. “While I understand this is the way the law reads we are in a totally different situation.”

City leaders, however, say that in light of the state’s decision to end subsidies, they’re left with little choice.

Snyder has claimed he didn’t know about the water crisis in Flint until October 2015, even though his aides’ emails suggest he was informed about the city’s dire water quality a full year earlier. Late last year, two Flint emergency managers who were appointed by Snyder were charged with crimes related to their handling of the lead crisis.