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Englewood building residents demand answers after going for 12 days without water service

CHICAGO (CBS) — For almost two weeks, residents of an Englewood building went without running water despite dozens of phone calls to the city and the management company.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, a plumber who was working in a hole dug next to the building at 7441 S. Harvard Ave. said Tuesday afternoon that water service would soon return. Shortly afterwards, the water started running again.

But it took 12 days for that to happen. That length of time made for a rough situation for people living in the building, and raised questions about why it took so long.

“No water, at all,” Erica Pugh said earlier Tuesday as she turned the faucet handles on her bathroom sink and nothing happened.

Pugh said that had been the state of affairs in her apartment since July 21 – no running water at all.

“We contacted 311, the building owner, the building manager,” Pugh said.

Franchon Whiting – another resident of the building who has six children – called too.

“I had told the city why exactly we don’t have no running water,” Whiting said. “We can’t wash our dishes. We can’t wash up. We can’t take no showers – anything.”

Days after their initial calls to management company Home365 – days – a plumber finally showed up at the Englewood building. Pugh said he dug a hole to work in, and then left.

“We only have contact with the manager, and his response was, ‘We’re doing the best that we can do,'” Pugh said.

The plumber returned Tuesday and said a water main break was to blame for the outage. But the plumber said in order for him to do the work, the city had to cut off a broken Buffalo box – which houses the shutoff valve for the water service line.

In the meantime before the plumber’s return, the hole in the front yard filled up with water. And the city didn’t come out for another week.

Inside the building, residents were forced to fill buckets and bottles with water – or buy it themselves.

“Go to the neighbor’s house, get water, like cross the street – or we buy gallons of water, bottles of water – and we use that,” Pugh said.

Whiting said the water outage has also disrupted her budget.

“I have to pretty much spend what I was supposed to be buying for food on some water which is essential for the household,” Whiting said.

The management company never took any action to accommodate the residents, according to Whiting.

“Not at all – no water, no gallons of water, no hotel vouchers – not anything,” she said.

Part of the problem may have been that the original calls of 311 were labeled as a plumbing problem – rather than a no-water emergency. A plumbing violation gives the city 30 days to respond.

Pugh, who has four young children who have had to stay elsewhere amid the outage. She does not understand how 311 call-takers can make such a mistake.

“I said, ‘No water, no working toilets,'” she said.

There is still no explanation why the problem was not solved more quickly.

“The building manager never showed up out here,” Pugh said. “He never came to see what we’re going through.”


Water back on at Englewood building after 12 days, but residents still furious

02:46

The plumber declined to be interviewed Tuesday. And despite 11 days without water, Whiting said Home365 still wants its money for rent.

“Then they send you emails saying, ‘We will respect your prompt payment due on the 1st,’ but we ain’t getting no water,” she said.

Kozlov repeatedly reached out to Home365 – leaving them several messages and trying several different prompts in an effort to speak with a human, and find out why this took so long, and why it did not appear to be a top priority.

Kozlov had yet to speak to a person from Home365 late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Department of Buildings said as of Monday, after an inspector came out, they filed an expedited action in court. It was not clear whether the court action would go ahead since service was restored late Tuesday.

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