Thousands of Flint Residents Could Lose Their Homes Over Unpaid Water Bills
May 05 2017
More than 8,000 people received notices from the city informing them that they owe money if they wish to avoid having a lien placed on their homes, NBC 25 reports.
But many Flint residents still don't trust their taps - lining up for free bottled water or installing city-recommended filters after revelations in 2014 and 2015 that unsafe levels of lead had leached into the system while officials tried to cut costs.
Residents have until May 19 to pay the bills, some of which total almost $1,000, or else they'll risk foreclosure on their homes, according to the report.
Recently, Michigan officials discontinued an initiative that footed residents' water bills, adding that $41 million was spent throughout the initiative's tenure, Washington Post adds.
Thousands of people living in Flint, Michigan, could lose their homes because of unpaid water bills, even though the city's water system was plagued by unsafe levels of lead and its pipes are still being replaced.
Under the settlement, the state must also keep distributing free bottled water to residents who want it, and ensuring every home has a working water filter.
The city of Flint, Michigan began threatening residents who weren't paying their water bills with shut-off notices in February. Federal regulations allow utilities to deliver lead-contaminated water to household taps, which is basically why the Flintwater crisis happened.
"I understand it's the law, but I don't like it because of the circumstances", Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said in an emailed statement.
If the 8,000 water and sewer bills are absolved, that would give the city almost $6 million. On Friday, she was notified that she had until May 19 to pay an outstanding $900 water bill, or the government would place a tax lien - a federal claim - on her home.
"I was cooperating before charges were brought upon me, I was going to cooperate regardless", he said after the hearing.
"We are legally obligated to follow this process", she said.
David Sabuda, the city's interim chief financial officer, told the Detroit Free Press that the end of the state subsidy means the city is now saddled with two water bills that it must finance on its own.
Per city leaders, this is the result of being in a bind and urgently in need of cash.
Flint's government claims it needs the funds and that if every bill got paid, it would generate almost $6 million in a city where 41 percent of the residents live below the poverty line. That is almost $1 million more from the month prior when they only collected $2.1 million.
"Mr. Glasgow attempted to call the police - that would have been the (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) - and they never responded", said Ruth C. Carter, special assistant Michigan attorney general. "We didn't make the choice to switch the water, but we have to foot the bill".