Family with no running water for months is preparing to move into a homeless shelter

The family has no running water, and hasn't had any for months.

NEWPORT, Wash - A Washington family has had no running water for two months. They've been using a porta potty and bathing in rivers.

Tammy Whitfield’s landlord has said he will fix her broken septic system for the past two months. Whitfield is caring for her grandkids during this time as well.

They moved to Newport in October from California and it seemed like a paradise, but once spring came everything changed.

“About May 19, we started noticing water coming out of the septic and a foul odor. So I called the landlord and he basically said he’d be right out to fix it,” said Whitfield.

That was two months ago, and Whitfield and her grandchildren are still without water. That means they have not had a useable bathroom, they have no way to do dishes, laundry or even take baths.

“At first we used the bathroom on the ground outside on the back porch. And we’ve bathed in the river…laundry at the laundromat,” said Whitfield.

Last week, a portable toilet was delivered to her home. Now the porta potty, a hole and piles of dirt take up most of her yard. There is still no fix in sight. Whitfield showed several text messages from her landlord, promising to get the septic system fixed.

Then she received this message earlier this week. It said,” I just don’t know what to do.”

“He informed me that he is unable to fix it,” said Whitfield.

According to Washington state law, landlords have a long list of duties they are required to carry out. Those include maintaining plumbing and keeping the residence live-able while a tenant is renting. It obviously has not been the case for Whitfield and her grandchildren.

State law also requires a landlord to begin fixing a major plumbing fixture no later than 72 hours after receiving a written notice from their tenant. If they cannot meet that timeline due to circumstances beyond their control, they still need to get repairs finished as soon as possible.

We called the landlord Friday  to find out why it has taken so long to fix Whitfield’s septic system, but he did not answer.

Whitfield said she spent most of her savings trying to live and adjust to what she thought would be a temporary situation. Now with nowhere else to go, she is making plans to move her grandchildren to a homeless shelter.

“This has just been a huge embarrassment and nightmare I’d like to wake up from,” said Whitfield.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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