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Houston residents plead for rent assistance, still paying rent on flooded apartments

Property owner tells media residents can break lease, move

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HOUSTON – One Greenspoint apartment complex has nearly 90 units on the first floor and all of them were hit hard by the Tax Day Flood.

Now, as residents wait for their units to be repaired, they're asking why they should pay rent for an apartment that's not even livable.

"They wouldn't want to live in this. They would not want to live here," Lakisha Kennedy, an apartment resident, said.

Kennedy and her husband have had a rough couple of weeks.

The Tax Day Flood destroyed their family's apartment and they've been living with their furniture stacked up and walls covered in mold, ever since.

"I haven't been to work in almost two weeks. My car was completely totaled," Kennedy said.

Yet despite these hardships and deplorable living conditions, they're still paying rent.

"It's not the owner's fault that the flood happened, that's something they couldn't predict, something nobody could predict; however, all we're asking is to be assisted," Kennedy said.

Saturday afternoon, with the help of members from the Texas Organizing Project, residents made two requests of their landlord: get the repairs made in 30 days and waive their May rent.

"We believe the owners of these apartment complexes can work with these residents versus forcing them out, giving them evictions," Tarsha Jackson with the Texas Oranizing Project said.

But the property owner says it's not so simple.

When it comes to repairs, he says he's waiting on permits so inspectors can get inside the units.

And as far as rent, for now he's only offering 25 percent off.

"I will not be a different owner than anybody else in this community. If the mayor says every owner has to do this, I will do it. I will not be the black sheep in the community," Narinder Nagra, the property owner, said.

Residents say they've been told if they break their lease, they will have to pay fines.

However Saturday, the property owner told the media residents can leave whenever they want without any penalties.

Starting Monday, flood victims will have an easier way to get the help they need.

A number of disaster recovery centers will open at noon around Harris County.

City, county and state representatives, along with federal agencies, will staff the centers Monday through Saturday at four locations around town.