Hannah Juley

As if the 2014 Flint water crisis was not bad enough for the residents of Flint, Michigan, now over 8,000 homes are facing massive water bills for water that is still unsafe to drink. The city is now demanding the payment of unpaid water bills for homes that still have issues with the amount of lead in their water. Not only is it wrong for a city to charge its residents for water that is unsafe, but it also is an unrealistic expectation.

According to the New York Times, “The city has mailed 8,002 letters to residents in an effort to collect about $5.8 million in unpaid bills for water and sewer services. If homeowners do not pay by May 19, property liens are transferred to tax bills, which begins a process that can end with residents losing their homes unless they pay their outstanding bills before March 2018.” 

Foreclosing on homes will only make matters worse for the city of Flint, which is why there needs to be a better form of a payment plan for the millions of dollars of unpaid water bills. Transferring the water bills to tax bills should be off the table, as foreclosing on homes can only hurt Flint rather than try and make their situation better.

If the city needs the money in a timely manner then the federal government should step in and loan them the money until the residents can afford to pay the city back. With Flint already having troubles financially because of the water crisis, the federal government has an obligation to help the American citizens that have been failed so badly by their city. This would take the pressure off the residents to come up with money they do not have and allow them the chance to figure out their finances without fear of losing their home. This is a rash decision made by the city of Flint and considering the massive crisis they have caused for their residents there should be more leniency.

Flint is a city of 98,310 people, where CNN reports that 41.2 percent of its residents live below the poverty line and the median household income is $24,862, yet the city is trying to collect millions of dollars from its residents before they can even fix the thousands of homes that still have unsafe drinking water. The first issue that should be dealt with is making sure the residents of Flint have clean drinking water, then the discussion of paying water bills can be opened.

The expectations of the city are unrealistic and need to be revised, otherwise neither the city nor the residents of Flint will be able to improve upon the current conditions. That being said, the federal government should be willing to support Flint because this issue is hurting American lives everyday. The government should lend the money needed to pay the water bills to the city and allow Flint’s residents to pay them back without penalty. Threatening to foreclose on resident’s homes does not solve the problem and the city should be more caring towards its residents, considering the city is the reason the Flint water crisis occurred in the first place.


  1. No. The people of Flint need to pay their own way. Water is not a federal duty. Water is a local issue.

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