Cal Park residents given 24 hours to leave

August 11, 2009 4:25:31 AM PDT
Tenants at three buildings that were closed over the weekend say they should have received more notice from their landlords.Calumet Park officials told the landlords the buildings were not safe after a railing gave away last month. Despite that information, the landlords still had tenants return to the buildings.

On Friday at 6 p.m., tenants received notice from village officials that the buildings were being evicted at 1 p.m. Saturday. That gave them less than 24 hours to get out. Some tenants said they had nowhere to stay and were forced to sleep outside on Saturday night.

The displaced residents met with the Calumet Park mayor on Monday and now have temporary shelter at motels until next Saturday.

The residents have been evicted from the apartment buildings twice. The first time was for a couple of days after the railing collapse injured 11 people. Without knowing it was against the city's recommendations to the landlords, many were then allowed to return -- until last weekend. Now, many said they are living on the street or in squalor after the second-floor apartments were closed Saturday.

"We don't know what to do with our kids out here. We don't got nowhere to go," said April Cook, displaced resident.

Residents say the landlords did not inform them this was going to happen, leaving them with less than 24 hours notice from the village.

"I've been wearing the same clothes for four days. I left my furniture, my food and everything up there," said Cook.

Many tenants said their units were boarded up with possessions still inside. Some of those who were displaced camped out in front of the police station until rooms were provided for two nights. But still, many don't have anywhere to go. So, they returned to the police station.

Antwon Flowers was injured in the collapse.

"The landlord is saying that for me to get the security deposit back I gotta sign a paper saying I won't file any lawsuits for my leg, so I can get my $400 of security deposit," said Antwon Flowers, displaced tenant.

Some tenants who were not evicted were placed in vacant first-floor units that are not fit extended living. Two of the apartments had mold and holes in the walls and no sink in the bathroom; one did not have a lock on the door.

"Horrible, unlivable, unsafe. I wouldn't want a dog to live like this," said Nathaniel Johnson, who was moved to first-floor unit.

The owner of one of the buildings has not been in touch with residents or city officials, who are still trying to collect a $12,000 water bill.

"Buildings one and two the owner is in Florida, a thousand miles away. Three is in bankruptcy and we've had no contact. We've sent notices and no response," said Tom Griffith, village manager.

ABC tried to contact both management companies but have not heard back.


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