Mayor accuses management of 'abandoning' affordable housing residents without power after storm

Shannon Ryan Image
Monday, May 20, 2024
Mayor accuses management of 'abandoning' housing complex after storm
"It's deplorable." Most of the residents are elderly or disabled and rely on electricity for life-saving resources like oxygen and dialysis. At least two of them were transported to the hospital.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- At least two people were transported to the hospital from Independence Hall, a Northline affordable housing complex that lost power Thursday through Sunday.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire, who deployed city resources to the building upon learning of the situation Sunday, accused the building's managers and ownership of "abandoning" the residents.

"It's deplorable," Whitmire said. "Nope, they abandoned them."

Most of the residents at the 260-unit complex are elderly or disabled and rely on electricity for life-saving resources like oxygen and dialysis.

"We have had people in here who don't have oxygen because we don't have no lights," said resident Rosalie Juarez. "Because their beds are electronic, people that have needed dialysis and have had no way to get to their dialysis, make the phone calls because their phones have been dead, because we have no way to charge them."

Whitmire said at least one person was taken to the hospital for a dialysis-related issue, and another was taken to the hospital for dehydration.

Juarez told ABC13 she tried to conserve charge for her electric wheelchair while the power was out.

"I can't get around without it," she explained. "I would have been in [my room] in the heat and that was it. I wouldn't have been able to go anywhere."

Juarez's neighbor, Lucy Johnson, told ABC13 she slept in her car to escape the heat.

"I have cancer and I'm going through menopause, so I had to sleep in my car," Johnson said.

Johnson said she was unable to make contact with anyone affiliated with the complex in the days following the storm.

"Nobody cares. Nobody cares." Johnson said.

ABC13 was also unable to make contact with building ownership, management, or employees. Whitmire said he was working to contact the complex owner on Sunday.

"Obviously, I've even thought about if there's criminal neglect involved, but we're not going to go that route," Whitmire said. "We want to save lives first. That's our highest priority."

Whitmire said his team was working to pinpoint the building's funding sources and discern if any funding it receives comes from the city before taking the next steps.

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