8,000 Flint families are in danger of losing their homes because they won’t pay for poisonous water.1
The water in Flint is still not safe to drink but Governor Rick Snyder just cut off water relief credits which cover the costs of running water in Flint, claiming that the lead in the water is at an acceptable level. Now, because the bills for the toxic water are going unpaid, tax liens are being placed on residents’ property, which will force their homes into foreclosure. You read that right–Flint residents could lose their homes for not paying for water that causes birth defects, seizures, and memory loss.2
The Flint water crisis is one of America’s greatest tragedies—in a depraved effort to cut costs, Michigan’s emergency manager switched Flint’s water source, pumping hundreds of thousands of their mostly Black residents with poisonous water. It’s now been over three years since Flint residents were able to use clean water, and atop of battling mounting medical bills from lead poisoning and purchasing endless bottles of water for drinking, bathing, and cooking, Flint’s residents now have to battle the possible loss of their homes.
Up until February, Flint residents were receiving water relief credits which were applied to their utility bills. But Governor Rick Snyder ended this program, claiming that the water was safe to drink with an acceptable lead limit. But the truth is that there no safe level of lead exposure. Even extremely low levels of lead have been proven to have adverse effects on mental and physical health. And it’s not like Rick Snyder is a trustworthy Governor, with the best interest of Black communities at heart. After all, he ignored the anguished cries of Flint residents for months, as showers left lesions on their skin, and young children became progressively ill from drinking the water. He also claims he didn’t know about the water crisis until October 2015, even though his staffers’ emails show that he was alerted a whole year prior. Rick Snyder’s nonchalant governance when Black communities are in crisis is abominable. Now he’s forcing their homes into foreclosure by canceling water relief credits. This assault on our communities must stop now.
We can’t downplay the seriousness of threatening Flint residents’ homes after years of government failure and corruption. Homeownership has been the primary way that Americans build wealth–and Black folks have historically been shut out of the homeownership process. While white veterans were given government-sponsored housing loans to purchase homes in rapidly growing cities and suburbs after World War II, Black veterans were banned from accessing bank loans and restricted from buying homes in most neighborhoods.3 And after the 2007 financial crisis, when banks targeted Black families for fraudulent subprime loans, Black home ownership plummeted to a level not seen since the 1960s.4
This latest effort to punish Black families and force them to use money they don’t have to pay for water they can’t drink is unthinkable. The city of Flint has suffered immeasurably over the past three years. Don’t let Rick Snyder take their homes.
Until justice is real,
–Arisha, Rashad, Brandi, Anika, Jade, Evan, Yeshimabeit, Corina, the rest of the Color Of Change team
- “Flint Residents are at risk of losing their homes if they don’t pay water bills.” ThinkProgress, 3 May 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/7889?t=7&akid=7447.1174326.ncwv5X
- “Lead Exposure Has Terrible Effects On Grown Ups Too.” Mother Jones, 7 May 2016. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/7890?t=9&akid=7447.1174326.ncwv5X
- “How the GI Bill Left Out African Americans.” Demos, 11 November 2013. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/7891?t=11&akid=7447.1174326.ncwv5X
- “Are gains in black homeownership history?” Urban Institute, 15 February 2017. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/7892?t=13&akid=7447.1174326.ncwv5X