Residents at Park Ridge Apartments in Ferguson, Mo.—several of whom have injuries or disabilities—were given less than 24 hours to vacate their apartments after city officials decided to condemn one of the buildings.
Residents have long complained about the state of the buildings in which they lived. Cracks and fractures snaked through the walls and walkways. Some tenants complained of the unstable foundation of the structure; but it wasn’t until a chunk of concrete crashed in front of the door step of one of the residents that anything was done.
And that response was a drastic wide-sweeping one.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, some residents came home on Tuesday to find signs reading “KEEP OUT UNSAFE” stuck on their front doors. They were told that they had until 2 p.m. on Wednesday to clear out of their homes, but as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, residents were still trying to get their belongings together.
“This is not good,” Anita Waters, whose daughter and three grandchildren live in the building. “This is deplorable. These people are human, and they deserve better than this.”
The Park Ridge Apartments receive Section 8 funding, and have received below-average inspection reports in the past from the Missouri Housing Development Commission, the Post-Dispatch notes. In May, T.E.H Realty took over the complex, adding it to the 2,400 rental units that it has acquired across the St. Louis area.
Residents from Park Ridge were moved into new buildings, but even that process ended up being confusing and dissatisfactory.
Residents were not able to start moving in until less than 24 hours before they were supposed to leave their current homes. There were delays getting their keys; moving boxes were only provided when they demanded them, and a moving truck did not appear until six hours before the move-out deadline.
The city later had to give residents leeway to retrieve their belongings, but they still had to begin living in their new apartments on Wednesday evening. Even then, there were still problems with the new apartments.
Sylvia Hooker, 64, was assigned a unit that had a broken air conditioning unit and a broken dish washer. Other residents complained of broken shower faucet handles and locks that did not work.
One woman, Sharon Hooks, told the Post-Dispatch that the new apartment assigned to her by management was scrapped by the city inspector due to a sagging ceiling in the bedroom. Hooks then turned down another unit because it was too close to where a lot of criminal activity occurs in the complex.
“This is what they do to the people who got no choice but to run, like roaches, like rats, like rabbits,” Hooks, 67, said. “We’re running in the dark, and you never know where you’re going to go or what they’re going to tell you next, ‘Oh, this is where you’re going to live.’ Their choice, not yours. I feel the ball was dropped on us.”