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Lakeview Towers residents protest lack of running water

Public housing residents in Baltimore protested on Sunday -- their third day without running water.

Residents of Reservoir Hill's Lakeview Towers on Sunday protested their third day without running water or heat in the public housing complex overlooking Druid Hill Park.

Nearly 50 tenants in the building owned by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City stood outside at 727 Druid Park Lake Dive and chanted, "We need water. We need help."

Tenants in the building include the elderly and disabled. Many attended the rally in wheelchairs or motorized scooters.

Residents said they had been supplied with gallon jugs of drinking water after the water was shut off. They complained they lacked water to flush toilets or take baths.

"It stinks so bad in here," said Earl Montigue, one of the affected tenants. He said water stopped running in his apartment late Thursday.

A spokesperson for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's office said the housing authority is responsible for the issue.

Tania Baker, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Housing, said the agency takes "the care and safety of its residents very seriously."

"The agency is taking the necessary steps to repair a broken water pump at Lakeview Towers and to ensure that resident needs are being met during this time," she said in an email Sunday evening. "Each resident was notified on Friday and given a 4-day supply of water, plus there is additional water on site. Two hospitality apartments at Lakeview Towers have been made available to residents."

Baker said staff had been on site "continuously" since Friday afternoon to "assist residents and check in with elderly residents with special needs. Staff will remain onsite until water is restored. Lunch was provided for the residents today."

Leo W. Burroughs Jr., chairman of the Committee of Concerned Citizens, said the housing authority is making residents "so uncomfortable that it is untenable to live at Lakeview Towers." Burroughs worried that residents "will be forced to move."

"It is outrageous," he said. "The Housing Authority has an obligation to provide fresh water to residents, particularly to the senior citizens who are suffering."

Sunday morning saw the first frost of the season, and temperatures were forecast to be sub-freezing by daybreak Monday. Donna Powell, a resident since 2007, said the building grew cold as the water stopped running in heating pipes and radiators.

"We are turning on our stove, but I'm not leaving my oven on overnight. It's not safe," she said.

While some protested with handmade cardboard signs Sunday, others remained inside and filled wastepaper baskets with bottled water — which they wheeled to their apartments in grocery carts.

Wallace Craig, Lakeview Towers tenant council president, directed Sunday's protest from his wheelchair.

"We are not second-class citizens," he said. "I have vulnerable people here. We should not have to live like this."

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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