‘I can’t lose my house’: Outrage after Flint sends foreclosure warnings over tainted-water bills
Thousands of Flint, Mich., residents have been warned that they could lose their homes if they don’t pay outstanding water bills — even as the city has just begun replacing lead-tainted pipes after a contamination crisis linked to a dozen deaths.
Warning letters were mailed to 8,002 residents in April, according to the city, a few weeks after state officials ended a program that was paying the majority of their water bills.
“I’m not going to give them one penny,” a resident who owed $822.62 told the Toronto Star in March, shortly before letters warning of tax liens were mailed out.
And the city called the 8,000 letters “routine” in a statement — though no one got one last year, in the aftermath of the lead poisoning crisis.
More than a dozen state and local officials have since been charged with crimes after corrosion from the new water source allowed rust, iron and lead into the water supply.
They’re accused of ignoring warnings and knowingly putting the industrial city’s 95,000 residents in danger.
“And water contamination also has been linked to the deaths of a dozen people from Legionnaires’ disease.” The city has since started paying Detroit for tap water, and earlier this year, state officials said lead in the water had fallen to safer levels.
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.
Mays, one of many who still doesn’t trust the water system, refused to pay.
Moore, Flint’s spokeswoman, said officials had no choice under a city law but to send out the letters.