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Woodland Park Apartments at risk of having gas, electric cut off due to unpaid bills

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 10:34 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 7:17 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Residents at the Woodland Park Apartments are at risk of having their gas and electric service cut off.

On Wednesday, CenterPoint Energy officials told 14 News, the owners of the complex have not fulfilled the payment agreement on their account.

We are told if the owners do not fulfill their obligations for the payment agreement on their account before a date in late August, CenterPoint will disconnect services to the apartment complex.

CenterPoint officials say they want all of the Woodland Park residents to understand what is at stake – they could lose all electric and gas services.

“You have people out here with children, babies, I mean newborns that actually need the electric and the gas better than I do,” Laquanda Pike, a resident who lives at Woodland Park said. “But you got children that’s running around here that need that electric and gas.”

CenterPoint officials said the company has “exhausted all options,” and the amount owed is “significant.”

These officials would not comment on the exact dollar amount owed on the account due to privacy concerns.

However, CenterPoint officials said they have tried to make multiple payment arrangements with the owners, which have gone unfulfilled.

Utility officials said they have already notified the city of Evansville, Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Evansville City Council Vice President Alex Burton touched base with residents at Woodland Park on Wednesday.

In a social media post, Burton said Woodland Park Apartments has been on the community’s “naughty list” for a while, calling the management reckless for the living conditions and for the “negligence” shown at the property. On Friday, Burton has recruited a team to go door-to-door to talk to neighbors about their next steps.

”I want to be somewhat of a buffer,” Burton said. “Just for the community to make sure somebody was listening to them, hearing their concerns and making sure there’s a solid plan moving forward with no steps missing out.”

CenterPoint Energy sent 14 News the following statement.

CenterPoint Energy has proactively notified Woodland Park Apartments’ tenants in Evansville of possible disconnection.

The account associated with Woodland Park Apartments is significantly past due and has been for a sustained period. CenterPoint Energy has been in communication with the Woodland Park Apartments’ landlord and management since 2019, making multiple attempts to collect the past due amount. The company has also offered multiple payment arrangement options. Unfortunately, these arrangements have not been fulfilled by Woodland Park Apartments. Throughout this process, CenterPoint Energy has stayed in close contact with city and state officials, as well as the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, on the status of the delinquent account.

As a courtesy, the company is notifying residents of Woodland Park Apartments prior to service being disconnected. This proactive measure is being taken to give residents of the complex as much advance notice as possible. If the outstanding balance is not remedied or the currently offered payment arrangement is not fulfilled by the Woodland Park Apartments’ landlord, service will be subject to disconnection in late August. CenterPoint Energy is unable to switch electric and natural gas service at Woodland Park Apartments into individual resident accounts.

CenterPoint Energy understands the seriousness of this issue and would like to reiterate the company exhausted all options in an attempt to avoid service disruption. Residents are encouraged to contact Woodland Park Apartments management directly to encourage payment to possibly avoid disconnection.

City leaders say CenterPoint Energy has been in communication about this situation for months. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke says this announcement comes as no surprise to his office.

At one point, the complex even owned $138,000 to Evansville Water and Sewer Utility, according to Mayor Winnecke.

He says while Woodland Park Apartments have been keeping up with their current payment plan, apartment management still owes the city about $90,000.

The mayor says this is really a conflict between two outside entities in which the city of Evansville can’t control.

Mayor Winnecke says what city leaders can do is put pressure on the landlords to do what is right by the tenants.

He described the situation as a landlord who has “not been a very reputable player in the community.”

“It really boils down to a landlord who is taking someone’s money and not paying the bills that they had to pay from those proceeds,” says Mayor Winnecke “It is patently unfair to those families that live in that complex, and you know, let’s hope that this puts enough pressure on the ownership team to pay their bills.”

The Evansville Housing Authority also issued a notice to Woodland Park residents. Housing officials are requiring apartment management to resolve the matter in 48 hours.

If the Evansville Housing Authority doesn’t receive confirmation from CenterPoint Energy by 5 p.m. Friday, residents will be allowed to break their leases immediately without losing their voucher assistance.

You can read the full letter below:

Letter to management/residents at Woodland Park Apartments.
Letter to management/residents at Woodland Park Apartments.(Source: Evansville Housing Authority)

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