A group of experts that focus on building wealth for communities of color calls on Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to establish a Health and Compensation Fund for the victims of water contamination in Flint. The fund would be modeled after the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund and would pay for claims, health screenings, treatment, and research on the socioeconomic conditions related to the crisis.
“Government has a history of creating policies that compensate Americans unduly harmed by circumstances where government was culpable,” said Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, President of the Center for Global Policy Solutions and an organizer of the letter. “Residents of Flint, MI should receive the same consideration that others have been afforded.”
Other recommendations by the group include:
- Homeowner relief in the form of writing off existing debt and tax liability of all properties affected by the water contamination.
- Suspending tax cuts and breaks to other groups or industries in Michigan until the infrastructure needs are met.
- Implementing a state program to modernize aging infrastructure in a way that would create jobs for those living in depressed areas like Flint.
“The impact on homeowners is far reaching,” said Aracely Panameno, Latino Affairs Director at the Center for Responsible Lending. “In the absence of comprehensive infrastructure improvements, they face significant losses in property value without any prospect of recovery.”
“Given the harm that Flint children and residents have had to endure for nearly two years, it is time for a forward-thinking response that not only ensures clean water, but also helps residents recover wealth losses and gives Flint children the supports necessary to be successful in school and adulthood,” said Trina Shanks, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, who co-signed the letter.
“The Flint water crisis is a regrettable display of a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to infrastructure maintenance. If Flint residents looked differently, voted differently, and had a different heft to their wallets, they would not have been neglected like this. It is time to address the health effects of this man-made disaster and to prevent this from happening elsewhere,” said Rene Bryce-Laporte, an independent consultant on asset building and another co-signer of the letter.
This letter is part of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative, which seeks to build awareness and support for efforts to address racial and ethnic wealth inequalities based on structural factors. The Center for Global Policy Solutions manages the Initiative in collaboration with the Insight Center on Community Economic Development and with generous support from the Ford Foundation.