Residents without water; blame landlord

Published 08/23 2013 01:34PM

Updated 08/23 2013 01:38PM

VILLA GROVE -- "What was supposed to be an easy fix, turned out to be a four-foot trench all through the backyard."

People say their landlord won't fix the problem and it's left them without water for weeks. People who live in this mobile home park are suing their landlord. The homes are at 407 Third Street. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield has more.

Residents say William Foss tried fixing a leak and, since then, things haven't been right. They've reached out to everyone for help. Now, all they can do is wait.

"I got a couple jugs we can just set them right here."

As a single mother trying to find work, Heidi Smith says she's juggling enough. Now, on top of that, she's using her neighbor's water.

"I got to drive my kids to Champaign now to take showers and get their teeth brushed. When school starts, it's going to be a major hassle."

She's one of several struggling moms who live in this small mobile home park. Things were okay until they say their landlord broke the city's water main while trying to fix a leak. Four weeks later, the main has been fixed, but the trench is still there and the water is still off.

"We fill buckets up to flush the toilet. It's tough."

Nikki Maulding is one of many who complained to the city council.

"Me and my husband, we pay our rent faithfully on time, and now we are just punished. We have no water and he don't want to fix it. He don't want to do nothing about it."

She says William Foss broke into the city's water system, turned off a valve and won't turn it back on. She also says Foss told them, if they didn't like what was happening, they can leave.

"The kids in the trailer park are asking around, 'do you have water?' It's heart-wrenching."

Heart-wrenching and they feel like they're getting railroaded.

"We're people too. Even though we live in a trailer park, doesn't make us less human than anybody else. We just want to live and you can't live without water."

The mayor wouldn't talk to us on camera, but he says the landlord, William Foss has violated several state laws and will, most likely, get a citation. The state's Public Health Department and city police are also involved.

Residents have been working with a local attorney who is making plans to file suit, but many of those affected are on a tight income and are hoping for some pro bono help.

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