Elderly Woman Upset Over Unpaid Water Bill - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/17/05

Elderly Woman Upset Over Unpaid Water Bill

An elderly Gulfport woman who had her water service disconnected is now in danger of losing her lease.

Mary Coleman admits she has a past due water bill, but she never expected the heartache that's created. One of her neighbors at W.C. Ladiner Homes called on WLOX News to investigate.

"See, I've been a person who's worked all my life. And things like this disgust me you know," said Mary Coleman, as she turned on the kitchen faucet and got just a small stream of water.

Coleman's water service was cutoff two weeks ago because of a past due bill. She and other residents of Ladiner Homes public housing had to sign up for water accounts last month when the housing authority stopped including water payments as a part of rent.

"That was on a Friday. Then on a Tuesday, they cut the water off," she explained.

Since then, she's relied on bottled water, along with the kindness of friends.

"Help of my neighbors. Plenty of drinking water. And I go down to my daughter's to take a bath," she said.

Coleman says she wasn't surprised by the cutoff notice over a past due bill. But she says the water department never informed her how much is owed and never suggested a way to work out payments.

"Without giving you a chance. If I had a bill somewhere, they should give you a chance, a payment plan that you pay it," she said.

Now that her water has been cutoff, Miss Coleman faces an even bigger problem: Losing the place that she calls home. Earlier this week, she was given an eviction notice from the Regional Housing Office. You see, since her water was disconnected, that is a health and safety violation. So, she's been given seven days to move out.

"They say you're not supposed to stay in a unit without water, and you are responsible for your bill," she said.

 A social worker is now trying to help Mary Coleman work out her problems. The next step is a hearing before the Regional Housing Authority, Friday morning. 

By Steve Phillips

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