HOUSTON - It's sweltering outsidem but Kenneth Prejean says it's more comfortable than inside his apartment at the Pines of Westbury where dozens of units lost power Saturday.
"I've been trying to stay in my car, keeping the car running, staying the shade," Prejean told consumer expert Amy Davis. "I can't stay in the house. It's just too hot. You can't sleep in there."
"How it feels in that apartment is ridiculous," said Marie Brown-Polk. "It's hot and it's 90-something degrees out here."
Kids are out of school for the summer, but parents say with no electricity, they can't cook. Many lost all of the food in their fridge.
"I have a disabled daughter that I have to take care of," said Mechell Brooks. "I mean I haven't given her a hot bath in 3 days. I have to give her cold wipe downs... and myself. No baths. No hot water at all."
Centerpoint confirms the power outage was caused by some mechanical failure with equipment owned by the complex; but no one in the leasing office would talk specifics.
"They want to know what's taking so long to get the electricity on," Davis said to an employee in the leasing office. "We're aware of the problem," the man replied. "We are working on it... but that's all I can tell you."
"We don't have the luxury to go someplace else," said tenant Femenia Washington "Especially it being the first of the month. We just paid rent on Friday."
It's these renters who are often stuck, with little recourse. As long as owners claim they're working on repairs City of Houston officials tell us they are not in violation of any local laws or rules.
A spokesperson for the Pines of Westbury sent the following statement:
"On Saturday, the power went off in 56 of our units after a strong storm passed through the area. We have a contractor working diligently to resolve the issue, and the power should be back on in the affected units by noon tomorrow. We have received no word from residents of toilet problems.
We understand our residents' frustrations and are very sorry for the inconvenience, but restoring the power involves boring underground to install the needed conduit and wiring, a process that requires careful maneuvering for safety and therefore does take time.
In the meantime, we are encouraging our residents in need of relief to visit our air-conditioned leasing center during the day, and we will discount the June rents of affected tenants by $100. Nothing is more important to us than the safety and comfort of our residents, and we are working hard to ensure the power is back on as soon as possible."
Still, it is important that tenants file complaints about issues like these so there is a record if the maintenance problems get too frequent. Below is a list of places you can call:
City of Houston 311
Tell them you want to file a complaint with the City's Multi-Habitability Group.
Texas Consumer Complaint Center
HAA's Resident Relations Department speaks to residents on Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Thursday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The number to call is (713) 595-0300.
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