68 Families to be evicted due to unpaid water bill

Dozens of families at an east Tulsa apartment complex will soon be without a place to live, because the property owner has not paid the water bill in months.

Trash hasn't been picked up at the Somerset East Apartment complex in three weeks, because the owner owes the city thousands of dollars.

The city says it will shut off water service at the complex on Thursday. Residents will have until the day after Christmas to leave their homes.

"I've been told the water is going to be turned off in a little while and we're going to have ten days to leave," says Brad Holinsworth. He is one of many Somerset East tenants to receive the news on Wednesday.

Holinsworth says, "The first thing I thought was here I am going to go? It's Christmas. And I didn't budget for this."

The office staff at Somerset East tells 2NEWS the property's California based management company, Proresidential, had no intention of sharing the news with tenants. So the staff took it upon themselves to notify Somerset's 68 to 70 families of what was about to happen.

"There are other issues out there (at Somerset East). We've got health issues out there that we are trying to address. We've got structural issues that we are trying to address," says Dwayne Midget with the City of Tulsa.

Midget says city staff has repeatedly tried to work with the property owner to correct code violations and set up a payment schedule. But the owner has made no effort to pay and now the outstanding water bill has surpassed $50,000. Somerset Employees say it's more than $70,000.

"We can't continue to allow this property owner to use water that other rate payers eventually will end up paying for. That's what happens with a default bill," says Midget.

Like most families at Somerset East, Amy Berry has young children and lives paycheck to paycheck. She says trying to gather enough money to move into a new apartment is almost impossible with such short notice. "I'm not going to have water. I have a baby. I have an 18 month old that is going to need to take a bath. It's not good. It's horrible that someone would do this to us."

Berry says this Christmas will be a tough one for her and her children. "I wanted to be able to give them presents to open and toys to play with. And that's not going to happen now."

A city spokesperson tells 2NEWS the city will bring a water truck the apartment complex on Thursday. The Salvation Army and Red Cross will also be on hand to assist residents.

The complex's Los Angeles-based property management company, Proresidential, did not return calls for comment as of Wednesday night.

Midget says the city will try to collect payment from the man who owns the complex. But if he does not pay, the city may have to absorb the loss.

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