The 4-Year-Old Face Of The Flint Water Crisis Deemed Ineligible For Aid
Sincere Smith does not qualify for grant funds designed to provide nutritional foods that can limit the effects of lead exposure.
May 17, 2017 at 12:50 pm
On April 25, 2014, the city of Flint switched its water supply from the easterly portion of Lake Michigan to the Flint River. This transition, known as the Flint water crisis, rendered the tap water unsafe to drink due to toxic levels of lead. The exposure to this poisonous water caused a devastating chain of events and long-term disastrous effects for residents of Flint who consumed and bathed in it.
It's been over three years now, and not only are Flint residents still unable to drink the lead-contaminated water, but city lawmakers have voted to impose liens on the homes for Flint residents with unpaid water bills. Let that sink in for a moment. Residents of Flint who have defaulted on paying for toxic water that they still cannot drink, are now facing potential home foreclosures imposed by a city that has yet to resolve the issue. To add insult to injury, Flint residents are required to pay some of the highest water rates in the country. The exploitation of this vulnerable community has been countered largely due to federal grants and an outpouring of support from citizens and organizations across the country coming to the aid of Flint residents. However, a new controversy is brewing regarding the application of some of the grant funds allocated to residents affected by the water crisis.
Funds designated by the Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to provide a stipend for nutritional foods that can limit the effects of lead exposure, are being withheld from Flint residents who have since fled the city. One such individual is 4-year-old Sincere Smith, who became the face of the water crisis when his image was featured on the cover of Time Magazine.
The Detroit Free Press reported that Smith's family is ineligible to benefit from the $7 million dollar grant since his family left the city. This, despite the fact that Smith will likely suffer the prolonged health effects from his exposure to the toxic water in Flint. "If I had moved to another state, I could understand being treated differently and everything, but moving just 15 minutes away, I feel like…it's kind of unfair," Smith's mother, Ariana Hawk told the Free Press. "I'm still within Genesee County."
Though thousands of Flint children are expected to receive extra money this month for nutritional foods, the eligibility for the funds are based on zip code which means that those who have moved away to escape the toxic water are no longer eligible. Bob Wheaton, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said, "We decided that we wanted to focus on providing this nutritional food to people who are still living in Flint."