Debit card paperwork leads to confusion for Flower Branch Apartments residents

- The organization Casa de Maryland is clearing up confusion that resulted over paperwork that the residents of the Flower Branch Apartments were asked to sign. Initially, there were fears from some residents that they were signing away their right to sue following the building explosion last week, but the apartment complex and Casa de Maryland both now say that's not the case.

Casa de Maryland spokesperson Fernanda Durand said Monday that when presented with to obtain debit cards, some residents didn't know what they were, which led to the confusion.

"As there always is in this community, there is a high level of distrust of people in government, etc., so I think some of the confusion came from that," said Durand. "As an organization, we've had meetings with the management, and we feel pretty confident that they are doing everything they can to provide assistance to the families, and that they are not asking them to release liability in exchange for that."

Casa de Maryland says it is continue to monitor the situation, and will do whatever it can to help residents rebuild.

On Sunday, Casa de Maryland warned residents of the Flower Branch apartment complex not to sign any documents that they do not understand. The Flower Branch Apartments reached out to FOX 5 via email to dispute Casa de Maryland's claims as "inaccurate,"  saying the accusations attempt "to turn an effort to help residents into a negative story."

The email explained that "as part of its efforts to assist displaced residents, Flower Branch management is providing financial and housing assistance. Part of the assistance package is the issuance of debit cards containing an undisclosed amount of funds for food, clothing and other needs."

In order to obtain the debit cards, residents were asked to stop by the Flower Branch office.

"For accounting purposes and to ensure the debit cards are distributed only to those displaced, residents are being asked to sign next to their name and apartment number," the email read. "They are not being asked to sign any waiver of any kind."

The email concluded by saying,"Staff is also working with the displaced residents to immediately place them into an apartment at one of their sister communities or another available residence."

Casa de Maryland will be holding community meeting for residents on Monday night at the Long Branch Community Center at 6 p.m. The center is located at 8700 Piney Branch Road in Silver Spring. 

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