Evansville councilman says some Woodland Park residents are being evicted


EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT) Evansville City Councilman Alex Burton tells Eyewitness News some people are being evicted from Woodland Park Apartments ahead of the the complex’s 5 p.m. deadline to make a payment plan with CenterPoint Energy. Burton says the locks were being changed on some of the locks of some resident’s homes.

There is a federal moratorium on evictions through July 31. The Vanderburgh County Clerk’s Office tells Eyewitness News no evictions have been filed with them.

Earlier this week, CenterPoint told residents their power and gas could be shut off by the end of next month. CenterPoint says says it’s been in contact with the owner since 2019 trying to get money for unpaid bills since the residents are only responsible to pay rent. The energy company says the apartment’s owner has made some payments, but not enough.

Woodland Park apartments manager says the pandemic is when the complex fell even more behind on electricity bills as some residents weren’t paying rent. She says even though some residents were living there for free, they still could not be evicted.

Neither the complex or CenterPoint will say how much Woodland Park owes, but the energy company says it’s a significant amount.

“What is that? Why she paying rent when ya’ll not even paying the electric bill,” said one Woodland Park tenant.

Frustrations mount as tenants say the people they’re paying their monthly rent to are not paying their own bills. Utilities for the complex are included in the rent which Burton says isn’t cheap.

“It’s not like this is government housing. People are paying more than 700 dollars, from 700 to 1200 dollars in rent to live in this,” said Burton.

He also says the utility payment crisis is only one of several issues tenants have faced while living at the complex.

“Now they’re hearing that the people that they pay their monthly rent to are not paying their bills which is a lot to take in. Especially as we’re trying to come through a pandemic, and a lot of families here have nowhere to go,” said Burton.

Friday, at least three tenants received eviction notices on their door for unknown reasons. So he, along with other city officials went door to door talking to residents to assess what next steps should be.

The Evansville Housing Authority provides federal vouchers to help low income tenants pay for affordable housing. The EHA gave Woodland Park a 5:00 p.m. deadline to come up with a plan to pay the utilities or those residents receiving vouchers could break their lease without penalty.

Friday, the deadline passed with no word of a plan.

“And you’re not gonna win the eviction baby, did you read the news today? Ya’ll can’t file no eviction on nobody,” said a tenant while speaking, by phone, to the management company.

“There was another push for tenants to be evicted which is unthinkable, unimaginable,” said Burton.

Burton said the management company put letters on the doors of every tenant saying that the bills would be paid and that, rest assured, all utility services would continue uninterrupted.

“I think we need to act as if it won’t be paid in 45 days and do everything we can to look out for the residents of this community,” he said.

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