Chicago (CBS) For about two weeks, residents of the Englewood Building were left without running water despite dozens of phone calls to the city and management company.
As CBS2 political investigator Dana Kozloff reports, a plumber was working in a dug pit next to the building at 7441 S. Harvard Ave. On Tuesday afternoon water service will be back soon. Shortly thereafter, the water started running again.
But it took 12 days for that to happen. This length of time made a difficult situation for the people living in the building, and raised questions about why it took so long.
“There is absolutely no water,” Erica Pugh said earlier on Tuesday when she turned the faucet handles in her bathroom sink and nothing happened.
This has been the situation in her apartment since July 21 — no running water at all, Pugh said.
“We called 311, the building owner, and the building manager,” Pugh said.
He also called Franchon Whiting – another resident of the building with six children.
“I told the city why exactly we don’t have running water,” Whiting said. “We can’t wash our dishes. We can’t wash. We can’t shower—anything.”
Days after their initial calls to the management company Home365 — days — a plumber finally showed up at the Englewood Building. Pugh said he dug a hole to work in, and then left.
We only have contact with the manager, and his response was, ‘We’re doing our best,’ Pugh said.
The plumber came back on Tuesday and said a power outage was to blame for the outage. But the plumber said that in order to do the work, the city had to cut out the broken buffalo box — which houses the shut-off valve for the water service line.
Meanwhile, before the plumber returned, the hatch in the front yard filled up with water. And the city didn’t go out for another week.
Inside the building, residents had to fill buckets and bottles with water – or buy it themselves.
“Go to the neighbor’s house, and get water, like crossing the street – or we buy gallons of water, bottles of water – and we use that,” Pugh said.
Whiting said the water cuts hurt her budget.
“I should have spent pretty much what I was supposed to buy for food on some essential water for the family,” Whiting said.
The management company took no action to house the residents, according to Whiting.
“Not at all – no water, no gallons of water, no hotel vouchers – nothing,” she said.
Part of the problem may have been that the original calls to the 311 were classified as a plumbing problem — not a non-water emergency. A plumbing violation gives the city 30 days to respond.
Pugh, who has four young children who had to stay elsewhere amid a power outage. She doesn’t understand how 311 call recipients could make such a mistake.
She said, “I said: No water, no working toilets.”
There is still no explanation why the problem was not resolved more quickly.
“The building manager never showed up here,” Pugh said. “He didn’t come to see what we were going through.”
The plumber declined to be interviewed on Tuesday. And despite 11 days without water, Whiting said Home365 still wanted its money to rent.
“Then they send you emails saying, ‘We’ll honor your express payments due on day one, but we don’t get water,'” she said.
Kozlov repeatedly reached out to Home365 – leaving them many messages and trying many different prompts to try and talk to a human, figuring out why it was taking so long, and why it didn’t seem like a top priority.
Kozlov had yet to speak to a human from Home365 late Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Department of Buildings said as of Monday, after the inspector walked out, they filed an urgent case in court. It was not clear whether the lawsuit would go ahead since the service was restored late Tuesday.