© 2024 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 910.343.1640
News Classical 91.3 Wilmington 92.7 Wilmington 96.7 Southport
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Taylor Homes still without consistent running water, despite Excel Property Management's claims

Kelly Kenoyer
Residents gathered outside Taylor Homes on Tuesday, January 10, to discuss the water outage there.

A retirement home for low-income residents has gone without consistent running water for nearly a week. WHQR’s Kelly Kenoyer went to the scene, and News Director Ben Schachtman asked her about it.

Ben Schachtman: So Kelly, we found out about the water problems at Robert R. Taylor Homes on Tuesday. What’s going on?

Kelly Kenoyer: Well Ben, I went to Taylor Homes in the afternoon. This is a public housing home for the elderly, and it was rebuilt in the early 2000s, unlike a lot of the housing authority properties in Wilmington. That makes this problem somewhat unexpected — it’s not like this place was built in the 1940s.

Related: Residents at Wilmington senior housing community say they're entering fifth day without reliable water

BS: There are some other differences compared to the other properties, right?

KK: Yes, this one is managed by a company called Excel Property Management, although it’s still owned by WHA. When I showed up there, the local manager, Brenda Overcash, tried to stop me from talking to residents.

Brenda Overcash: So I'd rather for you to wait until we can find out from the corporate office what to do instead of trying to make this a… before you start interviewing people.

KK: Am I not allowed to talk to the residents here?

BO: Not until I figure out what we're doing.

Residents: “We have a right!”

KK: Those were some of the residents chiming in to say they’d like to talk to me. That manager physically stood between me and a gentleman with a walker, and moved one of the wheels of it with her foot to physically block me further. But, I was actually able to talk to residents because they were so determined.

BS: So what did they say?

KK: They said the water has been out since late Thursday night. And despite what Excel has since told us, it is still out.

Catherine Ramirez is a resident there, and she told me how it’s been.

Catherin Ramirez: We've been without water since Thursday, but they will turn it on for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.

KK: She added that the water looks rusty. Another resident brought me into her home, and I was able to see the water she’d captured in her bathtub- there was dirt in it, as if someone had thrown a handful of soil into the water. And the faucets weren’t running.

BS: That’s definitely not safe to drink. I actually reached out to Cape Fear Public Utility Authority to see what’s going wrong, and they made it clear that this is something that’s the responsibility of the property owner and manager — not CFPUA.

KK: So what’s gone wrong?

BS: There’s something wrong with the backflow system on the property.

KK: I actually heard that from the residents too — and they said they’d been hearing something off with the pipes for months. Here’s Pearl McAllister, who said she’s seen leaking water around the back of the building.

Pearl McAllister: It's been running around up for seven eight months it could have been more all they had to do was go round and have that thing checked out from the beginning we probably wouldn't be going through all of this.

BS: Excel’s corporate office told us they weren’t aware of a systemic issue, but residents seem to say otherwise – maybe we can get more information on that after the issue is resolved. In the meantime, what else is management doing on the ground at Robert Taylor homes?

KK: Staff were dropping off bottled water, but residents said it was catch-as-catch-can. They weren’t delivering it to apartments, and they weren’t notifying people other than with posters. Several of the folks I talked to were really worried about their homebound neighbors- especially those with health issues. But anyway, Ben, you said you’ve been in touch with Excel Property Management about this while I was out there, what else did they say?

BS: Well they told me on Tuesday evening that they had made some temporary repairs that afternoon, and that the part for the permanent repair would arrive Thursday. They also said the water is back on — although they also said the Red Cross was dropping water off, which you wouldn’t need if the water was back on and drinkable. So there were some mixed signals.

KK: Well — I went by the complex this morning- it’s Wednesday, by the way. A resident told me the water was on for a little bit yesterday afternoon, but it was off by 8:30 pm. It was on again for an hour or so in the morning, but still dirty.

BS: So, another issue, landlords are often — I’d like to say usually — required to make sure that things like heat and water are available. Tenants have to pay their bills, but when those things aren’t available at all, there are sometimes options for reducing rent. What’s that look like here in North Carolina?

KK: Those rights really depend on the state. For residents in a situation like this, the best bet is probably to call Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Editor's note: Excel's corporate office said it could not comment on the question rent abatement.

BS: OK, well, our thoughts are with the residents, we hope they get their water back, reliably and drinkable, soon. Thanks for checking into it, Kelly.

KK: Thank you, Ben.

Note: If you or someone you know has issues with a landlord, you can contact Legal Aid of North Carolina for more information. Find details here.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.
Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature.