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Fresh Water, Foul Sewage

The Dripby Brew Editors1:27 pmJun 28, 20190

Housing Authority responds on Poe Homes rent abatement question

“We will address [it] as we move forward, but for now residents should pay their rent in full on July 1 as normal.” Young defers to HABC on the matter.

Above: At Poe Homes on Wednesday, Stacey Smith’s kitchen water flow was weak, and there was no hot water. (Fern Shen)

Housing Authority officials haven’t closed the door on the idea of a rent abatement for residents of Poe Homes, where a water main break left residents without water for much of last week.

But for the moment they warn residents not to withhold their monthly rental payment.

“We will address your abatement question as we move forward, but for now residents should pay their rent in full on July 1 as normal,” Janet Abrahams, executive director of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC), said in an emailed statement.

“Our focus during the water outage was addressing the emergency and ensuring that our residents were served,” Abrahams said. “Now our engineers are collaborating with DPW engineers to find a permanent resolution to the water main break.”

Tenants of the West Baltimore public housing complex and their advocates have argued that HABC should give those affected by the water outage a break because of the way it was handled.

Residents, who couldn’t drink tap water, take showers or flush their toilets for days, said the response from City Hall and HABC to their pleas for help was late and inadequate.

Water service resumed over the weekend and on Tuesday, city officials said water pressure had returned to normal.

Poe Homes residents last week getting water from an open hydrant. (@KeithDFox45)

Poe Homes residents last week getting water from an open hydrant. (@KeithDFox45)

HABC was “not aware” some residents had low pressure, as The Brew reported yesterday, or were without water service but would look into the matter, spokeswoman Ingrid Antonio said.

Responding to reports that water given to residents last week had been subject to a recall and that complaints prompted them to deliver a different kind of water, Antonio answered this way:

“We delivered water because the water service was out. The water recall we are aware of is the one in the following link,” she said.

Arsenic in Some Bottled Water Brands at Unsafe Levels, Consumer Reports Says (6/18/19)

“We did not receive or distribute the brand in the article as a donation,” Antonio said.

Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, asked whether he would support a rent break for the Poe Homes residents, has not yet responded.

Speaking with a Brew reporter this afternoon, Young said he doesn’t have the authority to get involved in matters involving the federally subsidized housing complex.

“It’s all under HUD [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] guidelines,” he said, deferring to HABC on the matter.

The mayor did offer some new information on the Poe Homes situation, confirming reports that some people had skin conditions they worried were caused by the water.

“Two people got a rash,” Young said. “We are concerned about it, and we’re looking into it.”

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