Lawyer for Haven of Mercy says Johnson City ordered shelter’s electricity cut off without notice Friday

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A lawyer representing the Haven of Mercy homeless shelter in Johnson City says city officials ordered the electricity cut off at the building without providing notice to the owner.

According to Amber Lee of Lee Law Group, PLLC and Pioneer Advocacy PLLC, city officials ordered the electricity at the Haven of Mercy to be cut off just a few minutes after 5 p.m. on Friday after courts and city offices were closed.

Lee said the city did not notify the Haven of Mercy ownership, residents or legal counsel that the power was to be shut off.

Lee told News Channel 11 that power was not shut off at the shelter after BrightRidge crews were unable to provide documentation regarding the order by the city.

On Friday, Johnson City spokesperson Anne Marie French provided the following statement to News Channel 11 regarding the incident:

We received an anonymous complaint that the owner of Haven of Mercy disconnected power to the annex building weeks ago and that there had been at least one fire in an electrical panel. We are currently investigating these reports.

Anne Marie French, City of Johnson City Spokesperson

News Channel 11 reached out to the city again on Monday. A BrightRidge spokesperson deferred all inquiries regarding the electric provider’s presence at the shelter to the city.

“For months the Haven of Mercy has been actively participating in the City’s lengthy permitting process,” Lee said. “The plans for permitted work have finally been approved by City Development Services staff.”

Lee said the Johnson City Fire Department conducted an inspection of the Haven of Mercy on July 13. The building passed the inspection, according to Lee.

“The statements by the City that an anonymous source claimed there had been a recent fire are not reflected in the report from that fire inspection,” Lee said in a statement.

The report from the fire department can be viewed below:

The inspection report states the building passed with “no trouble at panel.”

We are concerned that this latest action is a part of Johnson City’s recent efforts to drive away the homeless population. Those efforts have included asking non-profit agencies and local churches to stop providing food, shelter, and other resources to those in need.

Amber Lee, Lee Law Group, PLLC and Pioneer Advocacy PLLC

The Haven of Mercy has been engaged in the permitting process with the Johnson City Board of Dwelling Standards and Review after it was declared uninhabitable by humans in early 2021.

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