The city of Flint, Michigan has threatened thousands of homeowners with foreclosure if they continue to refuse to pay their water bills — even though it is water that remains undrinkable and dangerous without the use of a filter.
The Flint city government sent out warning notices to over 8K people demanding the money owed if they wish to avoid having a lien placed on their homes, “NBC 25 News” reports.
The homeowners were told in the notices they have until May 19 to reconcile their water bill debts.
Flint‘s water — reportedly found to contain levels of fecal coliform bacterium in 2014 in addition to carcinogenic disinfectant byproducts and dangerous levels of lead in 2015 — made international headlines as it caused deformities and other medical maladies in infants and children.
“I got scared, for probably the first time since this all started, this actually scared me,” Melissa Mays, a resident and activist, told the television station regarding the threat to put people out of their homes.
Those who were given the notices by the city have had outstanding balances for six months or more.
Flint’s government claims it needs the funds and that if every bill got paid, it would generate nearly $6 million in a city where 41 percent of the residents live below the poverty line.
Almost $3M was brought in last month thanks to people paying their water bills.
“Flint families should not have to pay for water that they still cannot drink,” said Rep. Dan Kildee in a statement, “and they certainly should not lose their homes over this ongoing water crisis that was caused by the callous decisions of state government.”
He also called out Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for phasing out water subsidies in February.
Also, a report issued in February by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission claimed that “deeply embedded institutional, systemic and historical racism” was indirectly responsible for the now infamous decision to use water from the dangerously polluted Flint River in order to save money, CNN reports.