Homeowner fights city to stay in house without utilities

An Albuquerque homeowner is putting up a fight to keep the city from kicking her out of her home that’s been without running water, gas or electricity for months. 

For about the last five months, Mary Kay Brizzee says she’s been living without utilities in her home near Eubank and Copper in northeast Albuquerque. 

Brizzee has been using a generator to power her home.  

“I want stability and by having my home. I feel safe, it’s stable, it’s home,” said Brizzee in an interview with KRQE News 13 Tuesday. 

The city says neighbors notified code enforcement of the generator in October, which sparked an investigation. City code prohibits people from living in residences that do not have functioning utilities. 

“Not having utilities in the house, it creates an unsafe situation, not only for the homeowner but for neighbors,” said Carmelina Hart, a spokeswoman for the city of Albuquerque Planning and Zoning Department. 

The city notified Brizzee in October that she couldn’t live in the home without functional utilities. Brizzee appealed code enforcement’s order. 

The difference in opinion between Brizzee and the city landed Brizzee in front of the Housing Advisory and Appeals Committee Tuesday. 

“I’ve been working very hard on bringing in a monthly income,” said Brizzee, addressing the committee. 

Board members ultimately ruled against Brizzee’s appeal. 

“We all understand, I believe, I do, I understand what you’re saying but our hands are tied,” said Alan Armijo, a Housing Advisory and Appeals Committee member. 

The denial came after the committee had already given Brizzee a month-long extension. 

“It’s a concern for her .. her health, her livelihood,” said Allan Ludi, a fellow committee member that oversaw Tuesday’s appeal. 

The city is giving Brizzee a week to get out of her home. She won’t be able to live there until the utilities are turned back on, which she says could cost thousands. 

In the meantime, the city says it has referred Brizzee to several local service providers that could help her find temporary housing. Brizzee is also fighting a mortgage company that’s trying to foreclose on her home. 

If Brizzee doesn’t fix the home, the city could eventually try to take over, but typically the city only steps in when homes need to be demolished. So far, no structural issues have been noted at the home. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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