Woman discovers neighbor living without heat, light or water

Woman discovers neighbor living without heat, light or water »Play Video
Floris Barrett uses a flashlight to write on a notepad because she and her adult son are living in the dark. They've had no heat, light or water since the utilities were cut off two weeks ago.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Irene Losey invited her Southeast Portland neighbor, Floris Barrett, over for Christmas, only to hear some horrifying news: Barrett was living in the dark, with no heat, light or water. And there was no hope of getting her utilities reconnected.

"I wouldn't have a little, old stray animal live like this," said Losey. "This is terrible."

Barrett said the problems became severe when she had two strokes, one in 2010 and one in 2011, that left her with problems speaking and walking. She said she could not work, and her money ran out.

The bank foreclosed on the house where she is living and sent her an eviction notice. She said she did not leave by the Dec. 9 deadline because she did not have a place for her and her adult son, whom she says is mentally disabled, to go. She said the utilities were cut off about two weeks ago.

"I'm very depressed," said Barrett.

Barrett said she and her son use the library near her house to refill water bottles, stay warm and go to the bathroom. They also use a camp potty in their own bathroom.

They also walk to the Fred Meyer store on 82nd, where Barrett said she used to work before her strokes, to use their food stamps to buy food and water.

At home, they use a small flashlight to make their way around in the dark. They sleep on couches in the living room, piled with blankets, since they have no heat source.

"Ever since Christmas, I have not been able to sleep at night, thinking," said Losey. "And (I) just pray."

Barrett said she had a caseworker through Multnomah County, but somehow, she lost contact. She believes her case has been closed.

Losey called the Problem Solvers for help. The Problem Solvers contacted Multnomah County, and the county sent someone out to reconnect with Barrett. The county worker stopped by when Barrett was out, but Barrett said she believes they will connect on Thursday, Jan. 2.

"I think that our prayers are going to be answered," said Losey. "I think so."

"I have some hope," said Barrett.