When city officials entered 2812 Echodale Avenue on Friday they found the house had “no water, sewage or heat” and ordered the occupants to leave for their own safety, according to a spokeswoman for Baltimore Housing, Tania Baker.
Baker confirmed in an email what The Brew had reported regarding the Northeast Baltimore house whose garage area has been the scene of dumped excrement complaints by neighbors for months.
“Baltimore Housing’s Special Investigation Unit found that the property located at 2812 Echodale Avenue had no water, sewage, or heat,” Baker said Sunday. “Electrical wires ran under carpets. There were rats, a foul odor and many other violations.”
The Brew began inquiring Tuesday about the excrement issue at that address, which generated months of 311 and other complaints by neighbors and a massive online conversation, complete with graphic photos, on a neighborhood Facebook page.
Asked about the complaints, one of the two upstairs tenants in the house denied that its occupants were dumping buckets of feces behind the garage. Residents say they have seen and smelled human waste in the alley.
James Uttenreither told The Brew there was water in the house and that the toilets were functional. But Baker said the city inspectors determined otherwise.
Uttenreither and another upstairs tenant as well as property owner,Robert Means, were ordered to leave, Baker said.
“Due to unlivable conditions, it was necessary to vacate the property to ensure the safety of the residents. A vacant building notice will be issued,” she wrote.
What will happen to them?
“Baltimore Housing’s ombudsman’s office is working with the owner of the property to obtain safe housing for him,” she wrote. “The other two occupants reported that they would leave the property and stay with friends. The house was boarded by property maintenance.”
Facebook Isn’t the Proper Channel?
Meanwhile on the Harford Road Community Collective page – which kicked off the cascade of complaints that led to city action – some city officials were warning residents not to depend on Facebook pages to get complaints out.
“I’m glad this issue was resolved eventually. In the future, if you need assistance with issues in the neighborhood, or need to know which agency can resolve a certain issue – the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods is a great resource and you can contact your neighborhood liaison directly,” said Alli Smith, deputy director of that office, writing on the Facebook thread.
“Yes, direct contact is best since there is no guarantee that a city liaison of Mayor or Council will see it,” agreed Christine Muldowney, a staffer for 3rd District Councilman Robert Curran. “I just accidentally saw post here.”
UPDATE: The Brew asked Housing about what accommodations are being made for the property owner forced to leave 2812 Echodale. We received this via email from Tania Baker, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Housing:
“The owner is in a hotel until Monday. He is scheduled to meet with Deputy Commissioner (Reginald) Scriber, Baltimore Housing’s Office of Community Services, next week regarding a long-term solution. “