Residents displaced from condemned building

July 30, 2010 (MAYWOOD, Ill.)

About 20 families were given 24 hours notice that they must vacate their homes in the 1800-block of 5th Avenue.

Flood damage is said to be only part of the reason the building is condemned.

Residents say there have been problems for months and didn't realize the extent of the damage. They are devastated and angry and even the children are sad.

"You got a lot of people that have nothing to do, especially those who may not have any relatives close by. You know, they may have to seek shelter. And then the storage thing is a whole other issue. Where are they going to put their stuff?" said Reginald Featherston, resident.

Residents were notified Thursday and have been moving their belongings out of the building ever since. "You have a lot of property owners, a lot of slumlords and they do this type of thing. They know their buildings are going into foreclosure and that they can't get the buildings up to code and the property up to code and they don't tell the tenants. They keep it to themselves, they continue to take our money," said Featherston.

"We had no electricity in our bathroom and it's been like that for two months but other than that, minor problems. We just don't understand why you gonna put us in 24 hours and it's not even 24 hours," said Raechalle Jones, resident.

The building has been determined to be unsafe and uninhabitable. There is no fire alarm system, no power and no hot water. Some of the conditions are the result of recent flooding. Village officials say they are mostly due to poor management and maintenance.

"The fire alarm system isn't working. Some of the residents didn't have electricity, no hot water. The basement was flooded. Property maintenance issues," said David Flowers, Village of Maywood. "The building is not safe and we just wanted to avoid any disasters."

The building is in foreclosure. Many residents are looking for the building's previous owners who appear to be nowhere in sight.

The Red Cross is assisting residents by helping them find temporary housing and putting them in touch with Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action (PLCCA), which has managed to secure housing for 12 of the families.

"I'm seeing people out here crying. I'm seeing people in tears. They're upset, they're angry, they just been told they have 24 hour notice," said McKinley Byrd, PLCCA.

A representative is at the building assessing the extent of the damage. The goal is to repair the building and have the tenants move back in. Then they will have to find more permanent dwellings.

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