Power to be shut off at apartment complex

July 20, 2009 10:30:14 AM PDT
Apartment tenants are running out of time. They're about to have their power shut off and they're hoping something can be done to keep it on. The power problem is going on at a complex off Griggs in southeast Houston. Dozens of folks, many of them elderly, say without electricity, they'll have to find some way to tough it out in the heat. They're also supposed to lose their water in about a week.

The apartments are run by the Spanish Village Community Development Corporation, a cooperative owned by the tenants who live there. Those we talked to say they knew there were money problems, but until last week, they didn't realize how many. Now they say they have just 24 hours to collect $50,000 or else.

Jessie Ford, 78, hasn't had air conditioning for three weeks.

"I got five fans running," said Ford. "That's all I got. They won't fix the air."

Come Monday, she may lose even that breeze along with all her electricity and notices posted around the Spanish Village Apartments warn that within a week, her water could get shut off, too, even though she says she's paid for all of it.

"I'm angry with the whole thing, president and all," said Ford.

The Spanish Village Apartments, which is run by a board of representatives, admits it has fallen behind in paying for utilities.

"How dire is the situation?" we asked.

"Very dire," answered Board President Jesse Belcher. "We need power and water to survive over here."

Belcher is asking for help reaching out to churches, celebrities and investors with what he calls a letter of hope and desperation.

"We need a $50,000 donation from anybody in the city -- Astros, football players, anybody who knows anybody," said Belcher.

According to Belcher, that's $21,900 for an overdue electric bill, $12,000 for an overdue gas bill and $14,000 for an overdue water bill. Bills, he says, started to pile up when the complex had to pay for repairs to the property after Hurricane Ike.

"We didn't get any Katrina help. We didn't get any Hurricane Ike help, and we sure ain't getting any stimulus package help," said Belcher.

A single mother of four, Renata Land, has her doubts anyone can collect the $50,000 that quickly.

"That's tomorrow. How you gonna get all this money within a couple of hours?" she asked.

But she's hoping they do. Eyewitness News talked to a spokesperson with the city's public works department, who posted notices about the water. He said the complex still has a week, plenty of time to come to an agreement on a payment plan. But, he said, if the water is disconnected, tenants will have to move out.

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