In this op-ed, Maya Rockeymoore discusses why government officials need to develop a policy response that residents actually need: a 9/11-style fund that provides resources, in the form of direct compensation and subsidized lifetime healthcare, for affected households.

The time has come for state and federal policymakers to fix what they broke by offering Flint residents an economic lifeline that can mitigate the harm incurred and help them move forward.

Those who say the U.S. or the state of Michigan can’t afford to do right by Americans the government has harmed should take a look at how we managed to find the resources to establish the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. There is no reason we should treat the residents of Flint?—?a disproportionately black, brown and low-income town?—?any differently than we treated the wealthier and whiter victims in New York City. Flint is not a developing country, and its residents are not strangers. Policymakers tasked with ending this nightmare should keep that in mind.