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Heat restored at Latrobe Homes after some residents go without it since Tuesday; hot water still not working

Aging systems and the cold weather caused a heat and hot-water outage at Baltimore’s Latrobe Homes, officials said Wednesday.

By 10 p.m., Tavon Benson said the heat was working but the hot water remained out. Benson’s 50-year-old mother was among those without heat and hot water.

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Ingrid Antonio, a spokeswoman for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, said earlier in the day that the outage started at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday and contractors were on site of the 669-apartment complex within 30 minutes to make repairs. Engineers and mechanics worked throughout the night to restore heat and hot water to about two-thirds of the families who had lost one or both of those services, she said. The remaining one-third were waiting additional repairs. Antonio was not immediately available for comment Wednesday night.

Said Benson: “Whoever controls these homes knew those pipes had issues and should have taken care of it months before the cold air set in. They waited too long to take action.

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“The people down here have to pay for the consequences of their inaction.”

The complex is owned and operated by the housing authority, which manages federally funded public housing programs in Baltimore.

Baltimore and areas to the north could see snow flurries Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

The Baltimore area experienced a cold snap Wednesday. Wind gusts made the air feel chillier than the high of 30 degrees that was forecast. City officials declared a Code Blue Extreme Cold through Thursday morning, triggering a series of responses by city agencies to help prevent hypothermia deaths.

Housing authority officials said they distributed space heaters and opened the Latrobe community center for families to stay warm.

“This outage was unfortunate, especially in the bitterly cold weather, but we worked very hard to replace the necessary piping to restore heat and hot water as quickly as possible,” Antonio said in a statement.

Benson, a community activist from Druid Heights, said his mother received a letter from the housing authority over the weekend saying the heat would be temporarily turned off for repairs, but it is unclear when the heat will be turned back on. Management sent a second notice to say the repairs were more involved than originally thought, he said.

Antonio said a repair was scheduled for what workers thought would be a quick fix but found the system failure was more severe than anticipated.

Benson said he is worried not only about his mother, but also the children and the elderly people who call the East Baltimore complex home.

“There are a lot of kids and a lot elderly people and it is going to be a really cold night,” he said, adding that many of the apartments in the aging complex are not well insulated and the cold air seeps in through the cracks around the windows and doors.

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