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Councilman tries to help apartment complex tenants

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

A day after chaos erupted at the Avery Park Place apartments in the Orange Mound neighborhood, Memphis City Councilman Harold Collins gave embattled  tenants a Christmas eve gift.

MORE: Woman randomly fires gun at apartment complex

Collins arranged with Memphis Light, Gas and Water to have the complex's water system temporarily turned back on after going days without it.

But Collins also encouraged tenants to start looking for a new place to live.

It was the day after thousands of people across the nation registered their shock and dismay at a woman openly firing a gun at the Avery Park Apartments while her young daughter watched. In the aftermath the plight of tenants who still live there may have gotten lost in the shuffle.

But Councilman Collins did not forget.

He might have been regarded as somewhat of a "stranger in a strange land." But that didn't stop Collins from taking a tour through the litter filled courtyard of the dilapidated Avery Park Place. When he met the lone resident to greet him, Terri Brown, he didn't try to hide his disgust for what he'd already seen.

"I don't know really what to tell you, but just to apologize," the councilman said. "No one should have to be able to live in these kind of conditions."

Like thousands of FOX13 News viewers, Collins was shocked by our exclusive video on Monday of a woman brandishing a gun from her purse and firing it in an obvious fit of  rage while her young daughter covered her ears. We reported the incident to Memphis Police who began an investigation.

After speaking with Brown and her 15-year-old daughter, Collins took some action of his own. He called MLGW and asked for the facility's water, which had been shut off since Sunday, to be temporarily restored despite the $1,600 bill the apartment management has neglected to pay. Collins' generosity came with some strong advice for Brown get the process started to find a new place to live.

"We'll see about trying to get the water on today," Collins said. "But, keep in mind today, tomorrow, Thursday and Friday is probably the deadline. Thursday morning. Eight o'clock, you got to get busy and I'll make sure that we can get somebody to help you in the council's office. Hopefully, guide you through the process."
 
As we continued our walking tour, Collins noted identifying available space in Memphis public housing is hard to find. However, those confronted with unlivable arrangements, might succeed by taking the initiative to find avenues of help who understand their plight.

However, Collins was unforgiving when it came to the neglect shown by absent, out of town, ownership of blighted properties in Memphis, those unwilling to make the hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs needed to renovate complexes such as Avery Park.

"They're investors. All they want is suck the revenue out of it as much as they can," Collins said. "Then leave it like this for cities like ours to clean it up."

Before leaving, Collins assured an appreciative Brown, he wouldn't be a "stranger" to her anymore.

"I'm going to give you my word," he said. "I'm going to do all I can to see if we can make this right.

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