INDIANAPOLIS — A notorious housing organization could cause hundreds of Indy residents to lose their homes because of unpaid utility bills. Citizens Energy Group has made it clear: the tenants at Covington Square Apartments are paying their bills but the owner is failing on their end.
“It’s a terrible situation,” Citizens Energy spokesperson Dan Considine said. “They understand what they’re doing.”
JCP Affordable Housing Foundation, Inc., and its affiliate Berkley Commons IN, LLC, owe Citizens Energy Group roughly $1.5 million in unpaid bills.
“The last thing we want to do is disconnect those folks and inconvenience them,” Considine said, “especially since they’ve been paying rent that’s supposed to take care of their utility bills.”
The housing organization is already being sued by the City of Indianapolis, Citizens Energy Group and the Attorney General’s Office for similar allegations at other complexes. Tax records show JCP Affordable Housing Foundation is based in New Jersey.
“They’re also using Section 8 funding from the federal government that pays a large portion of the rent, so these are subsidized apartments in many cases,” Considine said. “So, they have a guaranteed stream of some income, in addition to the rent that they receive from the tenants. They know exactly what they’re doing.”
Citizens Energy Group said there is not a timeline for when it would shut the water off. Both representatives from the company and residents of the complex, like Amanda Sisk, said they obviously hope it never gets to that point.
“Most of the people that are out here, they’re honest good working people and they don’t want to get kicked out of their homes,” Sisk said. “I mean, that’s the last thing that anybody ever wants.”
Sisk said her neighbors know water shut-off is a possibility if the bills are not paid.
“They’re worried that we’re going to not have water and everything,” Sisk added, “And if this place does not have water, which you need for basic living, then this place is going to get shut down.”
The Marion County Public Health Department issues violations when apartment units do not have running water. However, MCPHD officials said they are not involved at this point because the water has not been shut off nor a date set for shut off.
“We don’t want the rest of the customer base to have to pay for that $1.5 million,” Considine said. “That’s why we’re being so diligent.”
Tenants who have experienced problems during the course of their lease are being encouraged to file a consumer complaint at www.indianaconsumer.com.