20 forced from condo complex deemed uninhabitable
WPRI Eyewitness News
Shaun Towne; Reporting by Madeleine Wright
24 February 2016,
WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Twenty people were displaced from their homes
Tuesday after a Woonsocket condominium complex was declared
uninhabitable, and the city is now threatening legal action if the
building is repaired.
Many residents have called the Social District Condominiums home for
years, but Tuesday was the last day they were allowed to stay in the
three-story, six-unit building. Some were able to find another place to
stay while others are having a hard time finding a new home.
“I just need an apartment for me and my babies,” said Merlin Jackson.
“Put a roof over their head. That’s what I’m concerned about and that’s
what I want.”
City Solicitor Michael Marcello said the building had more than $3,000
in unpaid water and sewer fees. Trash could be seen piling up outside,
creating a fire hazard, and squatters were known to live there.
“You cannot occupy a building with lack of water, lack of sanitary facilities, lack of a bathroom,” Marcello said.
Ray Harrison, a lawyer for the condo association, blames the building’s
owners, saying they abandoned their units and failed to pay condo fees.
“Greedy mortgage lenders and Unit Owners who found it easier to walk
away from the problem instead of working to maintain their property
have brought the Association to this sad day,” Harrison said in a
statement to Eyewitness News.
“What are we supposed to do?” asked tenant Melissa Forcier. “That is our question, like what is going to happen after today?”
The city is working with some of the residents to help them find housing.
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