‘I can’t take my kids out into the snow’: Residents of Utah apartment building given 3 days to evacuate

SALT LAKE CITY — On Monday morning, residents of one Salt Lake apartment building received a shock when they learned they need to evacuate their homes within 72 hours.

It wasn’t for lack of rent payment, but because the owner of Georgia Apartments, 203 E. 2100 South in the Liberty Wells neighborhood, had ignored the fire marshal’s repeated requests to get the building up to code, city officials said.

Angela Moreno, who lives at the apartment with her two children, ages 13 and 14, said residents were given no earlier warning they might be forced to leave.

Silas Walker, Deseret News

A notice stating the Georgia Apartments in Salt Lake City are unsafe to occupy is pictured on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.

“They could have told us at least 30 days prior so we could fill out applications at apartments, but we had no notice. Today was our first even inclination that this was going to happen,” she explained.

“It takes longer than three days to process an application for an apartment,” Moreno said. “I have little kids, and it’s awful. I can’t take my kids out into the snow.”

At 11 a.m., according to resident Michael Cousert, police officers, firefighters, health department representatives and “everybody came knocking on my door … giving me an eviction notice saying that everybody’s gotta move.”

The 67-year-old has lived at the apartment for 15 years.

On Monday, the Salt Lake City Fire Marshal deemed the apartment complex unsafe and issued the order for all to evacuate. City officials estimate that at least 42 units are occupied.

The reason for the sudden displacement?

The apartments contain a number of fire hazards including exits blocked by junk, a wet sprinkler system “due to missing windows, doors and nonfunctional heating system,” electrical wiring not up to code, and missing fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, according to the city. The fire marshal is also concerned that cold weather has frozen the building’s sprinkler pipes.

Silas Walker, Deseret News

Michael Cousert, 67, leaves the Georgia Apartments in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. The Salt Lake City fire marshal deemed the apartment complex unsafe to occupy.

The apartment building has also seen its share of crime-related issues recently.

In 2018, Salt Lake police recorded 647 incidents to the apartments, which included drug problems, fights, domestic disturbances, trespassing “and a number of other criminal activities,” according to a news release from city officials. That number was a “significant increase” from 213 calls in 2017.

Moreno said she wishes residents had been told in advance, at least before Jan. 28, so they wouldn’t have paid this month’s rent — money she says they will not get back.

“We’re not magic. We can’t magically make an apartment appear. … And you know, some of those people have been there for 30 years. How do you move 30 years of your life in three days?” she asked.

For Cousert, who says he has cancer and is classified as “catastrophically disabled,” the news is stressful.

He also doesn’t want to leave the …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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