AUSTIN (KXAN) — A family of Afghanistan refugees are living in an apartment with raw sewage coming out of their bathtub and toilet.

The Watanjar family came to the U.S. after fleeing the Taliban. They said they did not expect to come to Austin and live under unsafe conditions.

  • Raw sewage leaking into bathtub in family's east Austin apartment
  • Raw sewage leaking into bathtub in family's east Austin apartment (Photo: Samarullah Watanjar)
  • Raw sewage leaking into bathtub in family's east Austin apartment
  • Raw sewage leaking into bathtub in family's east Austin apartment
  • Raw sewage leaking into bathtub in family's east Austin apartment

“They came here because they would have a good life. But they didn’t have any idea that they’d be faced with that kind of situation,” said Samarullah Watanjar as he translated for his father, Mohammed.

They said it’s been like this off and on for months at Fort Branch at Truman’s Landing Apartments in east Austin.

Management told KXAN they are handling this issue.

“We conducted an inspection and determined that there was an exterior plumbing leak at building 8. We believe this is due to roots growing in the plumbing lines. We have contacted a plumber that will be out today and anticipate that the issue to be rectified today as well.”

Cassie Cole, Regional Manager over Fort Branch at Truman’s Landing

But this isn’t the first issue the complex has had. It’s on the City of Austin’s Repeat Offender Program. That’s a list of complexes with multiple code violations monitored annually to make sure issues are fixed.

The number of times that’s happened has gone up over the years.

Historical numbers of cases that have been escalated in the City of Austin.
Historical numbers of cases that have been escalated in the City of Austin. (Graphic: KXAN/ Aileen Hernandez)

The Wantanjar family said after going back and forth with management, they got out of their lease. But now, they have two weeks to pack up and move.

“They came here because they would have a good life. But they didn’t have idea that they’d be faced with that kind of situation,” Samarullah said.

The City of Austin said properties on the repeated offenders list may have their registration suspended or revoked if they don’t address the violation by the deadline given.

If that happens, they cannot lease out vacant units until they fix it.