GREENSBORO, N.C. — Greensboro city officials say unpaid utility bills are why they were finally able to step in and shut the Heritage House down.
Greensboro City Attorney Tom Carruthers says the Heritage House Homeowners Association was supposed to pay the utilities for the building, but they currently owe the City of Greensboro between $50,000-$60,000 for water bills.
Tenant Sylvia Barkley paid $700 a month for rent at Heritage House. Now, Barkley says she and all her neighbors are being punished for their landlords’ mistakes.
“How in the hell are you getting money from these people every month, but you’re not turning it into the company where it goes? They’re pocketing it,” said Barkley.
Barkley isn’t the only tenant left guessing about what property owners did with their rent money and Homeowners Association dues. City officials say tenants paid between $500-$900 a month for rent.
“They went and vacationed with the money and left us homeless. But we shouldn’t have been living like this,” said Bertha Brunson, another tenant.
City leaders say 62 people own condos in the building, including Charles Coffey who owns more than 30 units. Coffey is also head of the Heritage House Homeowners Association, and even ran for Greensboro City Council before. Coffey was not immediately available for an interview Wednesday.
“Unfortunately this HOA failed in its duty,” said Carruthers.
Carruthers says the city plans to foreclose on the property.
“Will we recoup every dollar spent here? No. Will we put a lien for the water bill and the cost of closure? Yes,” said Carruthers.
Carruthers says the city will have to foot the bill for all the resources used to safely get tenants out of Heritage House. That includes staffing the property with as many as 50 police officers, which was a necessary precaution considering how emotional and stressful the situation has been for tenants.
“You see all the police around here. They’re going to have to take me outta here in handcuffs, because I’m that mad,” said Barkley as she waited to take a bus to the Greensboro IRC.