Temple Hills condo residents forced out after complex fails to pay utility bills

- Hundreds of residents in Temple Hills are without power on Tuesday after the owners of a condominium complex failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to Pepco and Washington Gas.

A letter of intent was given to tenants of Lynnhill Condominiums on Monday saying that service would be terminated Tuesday due to a lack of payment. At around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, the power was officially turned off.

“They gave us no notice and I’ve been up all morning trying to call shelters and they say there's nothing that we can do, that we are technically now homeless,” one resident told FOX 5 while he was holding his young child.

David Gilmore, president of the New Condominium Association, says they came up with a new development plan but Pepco wouldn't buy it. Gilmore says they couldn’t negotiate a payment with Pepco because the company wanted a large down payment of about 20 to 25 percent.

Pepco sent FOX 5 the following statement Tuesday night saying:

"The disconnection of electric service to any of our customers is a last resort that we only take if all other options have been exhausted. We care about our customers and are always willing to work with them to resolve issues involving their electric service. We can’t discuss specifics of this case due to state privacy regulations but we are always willing to make payment arrangements if our customers have trouble paying their bill. We also support a number of programs that help reduce and cover energy costs and there are a number of free programs available in Maryland that can help customers save energy and money. We encourage the customers affected to contact their property management company.”

FOX 5 spoke to residents who say the rent they were paying included utilities – rent that totaled about $900 a month. Some tenants said they would go stay with family, others said they would trust in God while others told FOX 5 that they had nowhere to go.

“I don’t know what I got to do – honestly I have nowhere to go. I have a wife, a little one here and waiting for my daughter to come. I don’t know what I have to do or where I have to go,” another resident told FOX 5’s Paul Wagner on Tuesday. 

There were some people who stayed at their homes Tuesday night even though they have been told by authorities to vacate the building. There were also some other residents seen cooking dinner on a grill in a nearby park.

With the power shut off, the elevator is no longer working in the building and those who decided to stick around and live on the upper floors have to climb the stairs to get into their residences.

Cassandra Massie said her family has no choice but to stick it out here in the dark without any power and heat.

“We had a baby here this morning,” she said. “Thank God that we found somewhere for the 2-week-old baby to go. We don’t have nowhere to go, so we will be staying here.”

Prince George's County's website says there are emergency shelters for those in need that are referred through the Homeless Hotline:

Emergency shelters are places for people to live temporarily when they can't live in their previous residence. In Prince George’s County to ensure we have a coordinated Continuum of Care system for homeless people, we require that all referrals to County Shelters be made through the Homeless Hotline.

You can call the Homeless Hotline toll free in the State of Maryland at 888-731-0999, or at 301-864-7095. The Hotline provides emergency answering and referral for the homeless 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Individuals and families in need must call the Homeless Hotline directly. Please be aware there is no waiting list and referrals are made on a first come, first serve basis.

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