As if having to deal with toxic water isn't enough, thousands of Flint residents are at risk of losing their homes … because they haven't paid the bill for said toxic water. 

You read that right.

NBC 25 reports that more than 8,000 residents in Flint, Michigan received tax lien notices threatening foreclosure should their water bills remain unpaid status. After previously sending shut-off notices, the City of Flint is upping the cruel ante in its water crisis. 

"I got scared, for probably the first time since this all started this actually scared me," Melissa Mays told NBC 25. Mays is a mother and water activist who lives in Flint, and received the lien notice in the mail Friday, stating that she must pay nearly $900 by May 19 to avoid a lien being placed on her property.

Residents who have unpaid water bills for six months or more were served this notice with a warning: after May 19, the lengthy foreclosure process begins. 

As such, Mays is caught in a bind between what she believes as an activist (not complying with unsanitary water standards) and simply trying to survive by keeping a roof over her family's head. 

Unfortunately, her story is similar to thousands of other residents who have to make the same difficult and inhumane choice after suffering years of contaminated water. "While I understand this is the way the law reads we are in a totally different situation," said Mays.

Per city leaders, this is the result of being in a bind and urgently in need of cash. "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. 

Per Mooney, the previous round of shut-offs are working in the city's favor, bringing in nearly $3 million for water, a nearly $1 million increase from the prior month.

Mooney's hope is that the 8,000 tax lien notices will prompt even more people to pay their water bills, which could bring in nearly $6 million for the city. 

Lots of money for the city itself, but what about its mostly-poor and in dire-straits residents? The overall question remains: why do the very people that make up a city have to suffer in order to "better" a city?