INDIANAPOLIS — The City of Indianapolis has reached a settlement with the owners of four apartment complexes where residents have been facing the possibility of having their water shut off.
The terms of the settlement, filed Tuesday, require that JPC Affordable Housing and Berkley Commons LLC sell the properties — Berkley Commons, Capital Place, Covington Square and Woods at Oak Crossing — and bring in new landlords.
Once that takes place, the lawsuit will be dismissed. The settlement also mandates that residents' utilities cannot be shut off until at least December.
The settlement states that upon the sale of the Capital Place property, JPC Affordable Housing must pay the city of Indianapolis and Marion County $125,000. Following the payment of all debts, collections and obligations, the property group is expected to pay the county up to an additional $600,000.
The settlement doesn't officially take effect just yet because the Indiana Attorney General's Office and utility companies haven't settled their lawsuits against the company.
Citizens Energy provided the following statement to WRTV Thursday:
"Citizens Energy Group is actively negotiating, in hopes of reaching a settlement agreement, with JPC Affordable Housing regarding their more than $1.9 million of past due utility debt that has been accumulated over the past 18 months. Our goal throughout this period has been to secure an agreement with JPC that ensures continued utility service to their four apartment properties while protecting Citizens’ customer base from the full cost of JPC’s past due utility debt. Citizens recognizes the hardship utility disconnections cause and that’s why the utility is a leader in ensuring financial assistance to customers through our bill reduction programs, grants from our Warm Heart Home Foundation and flexible payment arrangements. Citizens has kept the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission fully informed of our actions related to JPC Affordable Housing over the past 18 months."
For months, residents have been told their water may be shut off at the end of September because the management company had yet to pay $2 million in utility bills, even though water is supposed to be included in residents' rent.
The Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County recentlyfiled an emergency complaint with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in an effort to prevent water shutoffs at the properties. More than 1,400 housing units with 2,000 residents between the four complexes were at risk.
The complaint accused Citizens Energy of "using thousands of innocent residents as pawns in its economic dispute with the landlords"
In February this year, the city paid $850,000 to restore services for residents at Capitol Place and Berkley Commons. Indianapolis Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett says the city wouldn't be able to step in to assist again because the remaining bill is too large.
Bennett explained that, in past instances, including one on the north side of Indianapolis called Lakeside Pointe, interactions with JPC Affordable Housing had turned out positive.
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