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article imageFlint residents told to pay their water bills or lose their homes

By Karen Graham     May 4, 2017 in Environment
Flint - It has now been three years since the Flint, Michigan water crisis started, and while it's still not safe to drink the tap water unfiltered, 8,000 homes have received letters threatening tax liens if they haven’t paid water bills in six months or more.
On March 1, the state ended a program that subsidized the water bills for many residents in Flint, meaning that people would have to resume paying their water bills when they came due.
This was all brought about because the city's water supply passed federal standards for three months in a row, even though state officials recommended the use of filters as a precaution. Residents had received $41 million in state credits to help in paying their water bills from April of 2014 until March 1, 2017.
The recent water quality tests were conducted by Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech University professor who helped uncover the problem in the first place, but residents are still unsure about the quality of their water.
The city sent out 8,002 strongly-worded letters in April, warning residents they could lose their homes if they don't pay their outstanding water bills, according to the Washington Post. But after what people in Flint went through, including almost a dozen deaths that were linked to the lead-tainted water pipes, they just don't trust the water being safe.
So far, more than $5.8 million in water and sewage bills needs to be collected, according to the city. “This is difficult for residents, too,” city spokeswoman Kristin Moore said. “It’s a tough place to be in, but we’re just trying to do the best we can.”
Flint activist Melissa Mays, who is also a mother, says she is failing her children by paying her almost $900 water bill. She struggles with the kind of example she may be setting by giving in and paying, but she also says, "being homeless would fail them even more.”
However, reports NBC 25News, city officials say they cannot continue fixing the water crisis without the necessary funds from residents, and they city is obligated by law to send out cut-off notices.
"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," said Al Mooney, City of Flint Treasury Department.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is still looking for a better solution than using threats. Weaver says, “I understand it’s the law, but I don’t like it because of the circumstances. We are working to see if any changes or something can be done to help the residents affected by this.” And in the meantime, residents are still being handed out free bottled water or filters, provided by the state.
More about Flint michigan, tax liens, water bills, Lead contamination, 30 days
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