PENN HILLS (KDKA) — Dozens of people are being forced from their homes because of a water bill that isn’t their responsibility.
Residents at a Penn Hills apartment complex are fearful they will soon have nowhere to go. They’re asking churches and civic groups to help them move within days. And, in a last-ditch effort to stay in their apartment complex, they urged the water authority to take action to bail them out.
Residents at the Valmar Gardens Apartment complex protested out of both fear and frustration on Monday.
They are urging the Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority to turn the water back on in their building in hopes it will help them stay in their homes.
“I can’t give my kids water. We’ve been without water for two weeks, basically,” said Andrea Skiles, a resident of the building facing eviction.
They had a closed-door meeting with the water department, and made some progress.
“We went over all the things that we’re going through with the kids that live up there and the sick people and the elderly,” said Andrea Mogley, another resident.
The 25 families who live in the complex on Robinson Boulevard are calling the action inhumane. They paid rent, but their landlord didn’t pay the water bill and more.
“First, it was the lights that were shut off, our hot water went, our electricity went out and we went with cold water for a week. They come in the following week and shut the water off, come in the next day and turn the gas off,” said Skiles.
The apartment complex is home to residents, some with Section 8 housing vouchers, others with medical conditions and others with children. When their water got turned off, things got worse.
The Penn Hills Code Enforcement Office served mass eviction notices to all tenants within days.
“We don’t have an owner for this property, ok, one the water was shut off,” said Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority Executive Director Nick Bianchi.
The lack of utilities is making it unfit, unsanitary and unsafe for residents, and condemned by code enforcement standards.
Tenants are outraged and scared. With limited incomes and nowhere to go, they say some have pitched tents outside and contacted shelters in anticipation of having to leave quickly.